Each year, new research emerges around the built environment – providing valuable insight into how office design can impact employee wellbeing, productivity, talent retention and so much more.
Globally, companies are adopting more sustainable work practices, technological innovation is driving change and the experience economy is shaping the way we live and work. As our office design experts respond to these social cues, we’re expecting big things from 2020. Trust us, you’ll want to stay up-to-date with the top 5 office design trends listed below.
The notion that experiences – rather than things – make us happy, influence us and drive us has revolutionised the way we live. So, it’s no surprise that the same notion is about to revolutionise the way we work.
2020 is set to bring about a set of experiences closely linked to the hospitality and leisure industries. Expect to see office layouts that resemble hotel ‘zones’ – with spaces for people to immerse themselves in high-concentration areas, connect in collaboration hubs and kick-back in rejuvenation zones.
Providing employees with different locations to work in – depending on the type of work they are doing – gives your team with more control over their work-experiences, increases productivity levels and boosts engagement.
Offices designed with experiences in mind are also a great tool for attracting talent. This was particularly important to Photobox Group when we designed their new HQ. ‘It was actually one of their main requirements’ explains Monika Passey, Senior Designer. ‘They wanted to attract talent – young talent. And they were like, “young people don’t come to our offices because we’re paying them a good salary, to the younger generation it matters where they’re going to get their cup of coffee in the morning, it matters where they are going to sit.”’
And they’re right. Millennials are driving the experience economy. In a recent survey by Eventbrite, 78% of Millennials said they would rather spend money on a desirable experience than an item. As this way of thinking dominates their personal lives, it’s no surprise the experience economy influences where Millennials would rather spend their working lives. Seeing as Millennials are set to make up 75% of the UK workforce by 2025, creating an experience-focused workplace will help attract the top talent now and in the future.
As a society, we are becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the environment. As businesses, we need to do even more to reduce our carbon footprint and build a more sustainable future. So, it’s no surprise that sustainable design practices and sustainable materials are set to become a huge design trend in 2020.
But how do you design an office with sustainability in mind?
An office in the Netherlands has recently been built with 165,312 screws so it can be easily disassembled and reused – a process that maximises the circularity of materials and reduces the company’s waste. While, granted, this isn’t viable for every office; there are lots of simple, eco-friendly design practices that can reduce a building’s energy usage and waste. Simply by incorporating high-efficiency systems, using LED lighting, taking advantage of natural light, sticking to low-emission materials and re-using or re-purposing furniture businesses can lessen their environmental impact. Certifications such as BREEAM or LEED are great for assessing the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure – demonstrating that the construction industry can mitigate its contribution to climate change.
The way people use and behave in the office is just as important as the build itself. Having different bins for recycling, encouraging employees to use reusable coffee cups and going paper free in meetings are small changes businesses can make that will make a big difference if every individual is on-board.
We recently visited JTP Architects – an architectural firm that had gone completely plastic free – to understand how they had implemented the change. They have no plastic in the office, no one-time-use plastic bottles, no paper cups and no paper bags. And how did they achieve this? The answer is simple: ‘they have rules’, explains our Creative Director, Nic Pryke. ‘And they’re rules that most people have bought into. They also have nice quirky things – like you can cycle straight into, literally, right into the teapoint.’
When we designed Adidas’ new London headquarters, sustainability was at the forefront of our minds. We focussed on using raw, clean materials and worked closely with the existing building to limit the need for virgin materials. Even down to the last detail, we used sustainable materials. The chairs are made from 100% recycled ocean plastic waste and the teapoint is clad in 5,000 recycled melted-down yoghurt pots.
Yes, the flexible workspace trend has been around for a while now – but it’s a trend we predict will explode in 2020.
For one, we live in an era of rapid change and development. And, seeing as there is no way to predict the future, the only way businesses can prepare for it is to enable and encourage flexible work practices – so they’re prepared for everything.
It is also becoming increasingly clear that today’s workforce seeks the freedom to work at any time, from anywhere. In fact, 68% of employees in the UK would prefer to work in a more flexible way. So, adopting agile work practices is a great way for businesses to attract top talent.
But for these two things to happen, businesses need to be smart with their workplace design. Instead of simply thinking ‘we need x number of desks’, consider how the space can be used to encourage different ways of working.
If you encourage employees to work remotely – and only a percentage of your team come to work in the office on any given day – you’re not going to need as much floor space. So instead of giving everyone individual desks, design an office with open plan workspaces, non-bookable agile areas, task-focused activity-based work zones and modular furniture to accommodate a fluctuating headcount.
When we designed Photobox Group’s new HQ, we designed the space so they won’t feel the pain when they grow from 450 to 600. But for this to happen, they’ve had to learn to work in an agile way. ‘That’s something the design’s enabled them to do’ comments Design Director, Dom Dugan, ‘with growth, they would have outgrown Herbal House if they stuck to the traditional model.’ But, now they have all the tools to go completely agile, they’ll simply grow into the space.
The best employers know that people are more productive when their physical and mental wellbeing is prioritised. However, while some forward-thinking companies are making strides in the wellbeing department – implementing fitness initiatives, providing fresh fruit and organising company socials – there is one fundamental component to wellbeing that continues to get a bad rep in the business world: sleep.
At some point, it became trendy to survive on four hours sleep and six cups of coffee a day. But 2020 is the year this will change. Yes, napping at work is set to become the next big thing. No really, it is.
While the idea of napping at work might seem strange, a 20-minute power nap can improve learning and memory, prevent stress, boost creativity and increase productivity. And, in our annual workplace report 29% of British employees confirmed they would use a sleep pod if it were available in their office. As the presence of sleep pods in the workplace becomes normalised and the benefits to businesses are made apparent, we predict this number will skyrocket over the coming months.
Afterall, several industry leaders have already invested in this wellness-based office design trend. Google has installed sleep pods in its offices, Nike’s headquarters now features sleep and meditation rooms and we recently installed sleeping pods in Gymshark’s new headquarters in Solihull.
In 2020, it’s no longer enough for offices to be offices. They have to be smart offices.
According to Pryke, ‘2020 will be about digital information and the Internet of Things – that’s the top of the list.’ Pryke adds, ‘it’s all about making spaces smart so they understand what’s going on and can react to it. Clever – right?‘
But how does it work? Well, smart buildings can collect and share data, enabling companies to better understand when and how different spaces are being used. This is an incredibly powerful tool for office design. In Gymshark’s new HQ we installed the first Human Centric smart lighting system. It tracks how the space is used so that Gymshark can continually asses and optimise their office design as the company evolves.
And the reason this is set to become such a big trend in 2020? Gen Z are starting to enter the workforce – and like Millennials, but unlike other generations – they’re not bothered by technology being used in this way. ‘They’re okay with digital information being collected and used, because they understand it and they get it’, explains Pryke. ‘They get how it’s beneficial. Whereas older generations are like, “Oh I don’t really know that I want a world like that.”’ But with Millennials and Gen Z soon to make us the majority of the workforce, the way we use technology will continue to grow and smart offices will soon become commonplace.
The thing about these trends, is they’re not just trends for 2020. They’ll be as relevant in the next decade as they are now.