2021 Office Design Trends for the Future Workforce
The future of office design is here
Over the years, office design has evolved and there are several trends that will occur in 2021. One of those trends will be the ever-evolving modern office space. Catering to the end-user’s wants and needs in a flexible workspace design can improve productivity, help battle stress and loneliness and increase employee retention rates. Workspaces are becoming more dynamic, authentic, sustainable and hospitable.
Free-Addressing Work Environment
Workplaces are shifting from endless rows of cubicles and uninviting corner offices to a free-address work environment that al
lows you to work anywhere and everywhere. No one is tethered to a particular desk or office- some spaces are open and others are enclosed and may be a bit more formal.
Open environments, especially for millennials and the burgeoning Gen Z population, supports and encourages collaboration. An open environment can encourage collaboration because at any moment, you can spin around and ask a fellow colleague a question or kickoff a spontaneous brainstorm.
Privacy vs. Collaboration
Privacy is also another factor to consider for 2020. When it comes to the open workspace, it depends on who you talk to. In today’s workspace environment, you could potentially have up to five generations working under one roof and they all have a different sense of the value of what an open workspace means to them.
The overarching theme here is not necessarily whether an open environment is the right environment. The workspace of the future has multiple environments underneath one roof to accommodate different work styles as well as things like HR and needing privacy for those particular reasons. It can’t just be one size fits all, you need spaces like phone booths, board rooms and private offices so that people can go make a phone call to their doctor, take a private meeting call or collaborate with co-workers.
Flexible Furniture Design
According to Ambius’s 2020 Office Design Trends, dynamic furniture flexibility is a macro trend playing a key role in how business are reinventing their workspaces. Dynamic Flexibility will be a property or company’s ability to shift and reshape itself in the blink of an eye in order to meet worker needs.
To create this sort of environment, companies need to embrace a furniture-forward thinking approach. Furniture and workplace elements should be lightweight and move easy (i.e. have wheels); and they should also be ergonomic and multi-functional.
Examples of multi-functional furniture includes a desk that doubles as a presentation board, a large table that can be easily converted into a small table with two chairs, and a wall or partition that can double as a whiteboard.
As worker needs and demands change and as technology continues to revolutionize the way we work, the physical space must change as well. The goal of design before or after a workspace relocation is to improve the working environment for the end user and taking into account the ever changing and ever-expanding needs of businesses.
Voice Technology in the Workplace
Hey Siri! Ok, Google! Alexa! People are already using voice technology like Siri, Google and Alexia in their homes and cars to answer questions, get daily news content and order products. From smart speakers to phones to virtual assistants, we are using voice without even thinking about it. As homes have steadily been embracing this smart technology, office spaces are rushing to catch up.
Over the next four years, Gartner predicts that 25% of employees will use voice to interact with applications in the workplace, a clear indication that voice technology is poised to dramatically change the digital workplace. From smart lighting and heating to smart security and voice assistants, the use of smart technology in the workforce seems to be endless and even more important, eco-friendly and sustainable!
Decreasing Workplace Stress through Design
Workplace stress is on the rise, globally, not just here in the United States. The US used to be seen as the hardest and longest workforce. Always on the go, long hours and a need to compete hasn’t helped work culture. Stress is linked to reduced productivity and ill health like insomnia and anxiety. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the toll it is taking on their employees.
Workplace design can have a major impact on mental and emotional well-being. Well-designed workspaces that also integrate the free-addressing phenomenon can prevent employee isolation. From lighting to noise reduction to bringing more of nature into the workplace more companies are willing to invest in small yet significant changes that can create a better and healthier working environment.
With the incoming generation of workers and the need to also appease older generations of workers, employers and property managers need to keep in mind that the name of the game is to be flexible. Flexible to the needs of growth and to the needs of the evolving workforce.
Companies should be investing in their workplace culture as well as the physical design. Working with experienced and seasoned project managers on a full-scale relocation, whether the space is being upgraded or downgraded in size and locale or refit is the way to go.
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