Office designs change and evolve every few years and incorporate the newest in organization and design thinking to the workplace. The top companies will employ industrial-organization psychologists to try to implement the perfect layout for an office to optimize their employees’ productivity and happiness. The newest trends and changes are not without their pros and cons as some office workers are resistant to change.
What’s certain is that employers are paying closer attention to how design fosters communication, teamwork, and productivity. At the same time, workplaces are becoming more casual and less rigid than the offices of yesteryear. Lets look at a few of the changing trends and their use in the real world.
1. Unorthodox Desk Alternatives
Design trends are largely human centric and seek to enliven and improve the lives of the users. Many employees are now working on laptops in the office because of their portability for meetings and the ability to take the computer home and on business trips. Because of this, many companies are designing their offices with this in mind and are giving employees more creative spaces to work in.
Beanbag chairs are the first desk alternative that springs to mind, but companies like Pixar are throwing everything out there from couches to rooftop decks to play sheds. Companies have repurposed phone booths, built tree houses, and even created in-office bars to work from. To me the perfect working environment is a coffee shop, so more companies should strive for that. Whatever your budget and goals, try to liven up the place and give the employees other places to work in besides their boring desk.
2. Breakout Meeting Spaces
Software engineering teams often use programming principles that call for daily stand up meetings. Verizon Wireless made the 15-minute meeting popular. Efficiency experts are calling for less formal meetings and more quick ones. These are all reasons for casual meeting spaces where team members can huddle for a quick collaboration.
Companies will always need formal boardrooms for the serious meetings or when pitching to clients, but not every room should be this way. More and more quick meeting rooms and even simple tables are popping up in more workspaces. The jury is still out on their total impact, but we’ll see more of this trend this year.
Offices like Dropbox exemplify the use of open meeting space for breakout sessions. With comedic names for their mini meeting rooms like “Romance Chamber” and “The Break of Room” they make the workplace casual and lively.
3. Nixing the Cubicles with Open Floor Plans
In their ideal state, open floor plans get rid of the barriers separating coworkers and foster open communication and collaboration. By allowing more opportunities for coworkers to run into each other, more serendipitous ideas and conversations can sprout.
The theory is that with cubicles gone, people can hide less and everyone can be seen. It’s both a gain of openness and a loss of privacy at the same time. This may work well for teams that depend on each other throughout the day for communication and constant movement. The design might not be the best for teams of employees that need to focus and be quiet in their work.
Tech companies and startups have been ahead of the trend embracing this trend. With small companies that have only few employees that are constantly communicating, this design is the most practical.
4. Alternative Wall Murals
When you think wall murals you most likely think grocery store art, children’s nursery murals, or glorified graffiti downtown. But the trendiest companies are installing amazing wall murals of every type.
If you think about it, the white walls throughout every office are large canvases just waiting to be transformed. Whatever your ideal goal is for the space you can use it. If you’re going for straight inspiration, you can blow up your company purpose and affix decals right on the wall. If you’re giving your employees a rest for their screen-weary eyes, custom art from a local artist should do the trick. If you’re trying to showcase the diversity of your employees throughout your organization like the San Diego Marriott did with their hallway wall murals, that’s a good strategy too.
The beauty of wall murals is that the ideas are limitless, and with removable graphics, they’re not permanent if you don’t want them to be.
There is one last takeaway to remember before you go crazy on your next remodel. When planning your next office redesign, think about who your employees are and how you can serve them better. Putting employees first and engaging in conversation with them will guarantee that you are doing what’s best for your company and not just what the current trends are. Office trends come and go, but your employees are the lifeblood of your company.
Mark Krenn is the founder of Coastal Creative Reprographics, a San Diego, CA printing company. Founded in 2012, Coastal Creative Reprographics specializes in wide format printing including wall graphics, tradeshow displays, banners, and vehicle graphics. Mark enjoys keeping active outdoors, and traveling in his free time. Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.