We’re one quarter into 2017 and, if you’ve been keeping an eye on office trends, you know what’s happening. If not, don’t worry; that’s a job we enjoy taking on.
Now, we know that office furniture isn’t really seen as a “beautiful” thing, but there is a certain amount of elegance to the way that furniture design follows philosophical trends.
For example, the Millennial generation appreciates collaboration and community and office design has followed. Open workplaces promote a more communal feel, which complements the desire for inclusion.
In other words, office furniture function and form tend to follow changes in cultural philosophies.
As popular design site Design Trends looked to 2017, they predicted the emergence of adaptable furniture. If you haven’t heard this term, you aren’t alone.
“Adaptable furniture” describes a fusion between popular common-area pieces like couches and partition-style privacy panels you install and remove in seconds.
The idea here is that you can go to a common area to relax and talk with coworkers, and when you want to get some work done, you add the privacy partition to give yourself some autonomy as you tackle a new project.
“Modular soft seating, modular workbenches, desk pods, meet point tables, collaborative and breakout furniture, and acoustic elements are all brilliant examples of smart office furniture that boost a high performance in the adaptable workplace,” Design Trend wrote.
Offices Going Natural
Over the past decade or so startups and big tech firms have emphasized the open workplace. There are many reasons for this, if not the least of which is a distaste for the way things were done both in business processes and office design.
Open space was the answer to the way things were. Almost playground-like work areas replaced the monochrome cubicle farms that dominated stereotypes of the previous generation’s offices.
According to Forbes, some companies are taking that open concept and expanding it to include natural spaces. That’s right – the push for the open concept has moved outside the walls of the building and incorporated Mother Nature.
The trend is known as biophilic design, Inc. contributor Jeff Pochepan said.
“Biophilic design elements have demonstrably real, measurable benefits for human performance metrics such as productivity, emotional well-being, stress reduction, learning, and healing,” Pochepan wrote.
He went on to use Kickstarter’s renovated New York offices as an example of biophilic design. The building has an open courtyard and a rooftop garden.
“The courtyard is centralized in the middle of the office and the space remains open as it extends upward, allowing more natural light to come into the building,” Pochepan wrote. “As a result, the new office provides spaces for relief from mental and physiological fatigue”
Design Trends also noted this inclination toward the natural world, saying, “a natural ambience can not only help to bring an open and pleasant atmosphere but also help in purifying the air.”
Co-Working Spaces Continue Their Rise
More than a third of American workers will do freelance work this year. While it’s difficult to determine how many full-time freelancers there are, it’s clear there’s a significant shift happening in the workforce.
With this influx of work-from-home talent shunning traditional offices, a need – especially in cities with small living spaces – arose for communal workspaces away from the home.
Enter the co-working space. In most cases, individuals can pay for monthly full access to common areas and desks or reduced memberships for access to communal areas. You’ll often find weekly and one-day passes, too.
“Individuals and start-up companies have begun to look for co-working facilities that provide a cost effective and convenient office environment,” Design Trend wrote. “Along with providing all the necessary elements, the setup also allows for cross-field interaction and discussions.”
Adapting Your Office to Trends
It’s hard to get a read on legitimate trends in the professional world.
While many new businesses and tech titans are opting for creative, open spaces, there are plenty of other big companies who are sticking with cubicles and traditional office spaces.
There’s something to be said for traditional office designs, too. The emphasis on cubicles separate from conference rooms has merit. Studies show that collaborative conference rooms are more productive than open-concept spaces.