Going to the office tends to be a stultifying thought. Another day spent crouched over your monitor, drearily working your way through your inbox, taking as long as possible over your lunch and tea-breaks, before escaping on the dot of going home time. Yes?
No. There is another way to work, a better way. And it begins with a quick look at the current trends in office design, ready to anticipate which way they are going to go for the rest of 2019 and beyond.
1. Open to Possibilities
A far cry from the airless warrens that used to comprise office space, a myriad of small identical cubicles in which each worker felt stifled and isolated and lacking in individuality, current office interior design trends are moving towards light and airy wide open spaces.
There was a fashion, twenty or thirty years ago, for lowered ceilings to create a sense of urgency, of no space wasted. There was also a tendency to cover up window spaces, with vinyl images or blinds kept permanently closed. The reason for the latter was to encourage workers to focus on the work, and not be distracted by the time of day or whatever might be happening outside. This is now being recognised as flawed logic: having no context against which to set their day is bad for employee morale, and we tend to do better, work smarter, be more productive and think more clearly when we feel connected to the rest of the world.
This new understanding is leading to welcoming workspaces that allow natural light to flood in, and to those false ceilings being stripped out. Simply adding more height to an office space seems to double the available space so this is an excellent way to increase the appearance of spaciousness in smaller or crowded rooms.
2. Keep it Natural
In line with all this environmental consciousness has come the understanding that people do not do well, both mentally and physically, when removed too far from natural greenery and fresh air. Therefore, one of the current trends in office design is to introduce as many natural elements as possible. These can include something as simple as pot plants and planters, or be as unusual as moss walls, trees inside buildings, and creepers climbing over walls.
Having access to greenery is not only good for the air in the office: many plants work to recycle the air and some mosses even absorb toxins from it, it has a great psychological advantage too. Being surrounded by greenery helps us to relax and feel comfortable in our environment, and this is good for productivity.
Artificial waterfalls charge the air with positive ions which are both soothing and aid to concentration, while some offices have even introduced office pets who double as therapy animals. A famous instance is a stray cat that was adopted by a police station: administrators soon noticed a small but significant decline in stress and mental health issues in those officers who spent time with the cat, especially after stressful incidents.
If you have people with allergies in the building, you may prefer to arrange occasional visits from therapy dogs, rather than investing in a full-time pet for the office, but animals are appearing in more and more businesses all over the world.
3. Get Artistic
A boring undecorated cubicle is not going to inspire anyone's best work. Being encouraged to think out of the box and come up with new and innovative ideas is quite difficult when your surroundings smack of boredom and uniformity.
Fill the offices with abstract paintings – especially those featuring geometric designs – and play classical music throughout the day. Being surrounded by artworks that provoke thoughtfulness can encourage your workers to do more creative work, while the benefits of listening to classical music on the creative brain have long been observed.
A writer finds their work to be better, artists achieve effects they normally struggle with and similar benefits can be found in any creative endeavour. You may not believe that your office design trends can actually boost profits, but the benefits are tangible and scientifically acknowledged!
4. Repurpose And Upcycle
Traditionally, architects and interior designers primarily focused on meeting a client’s aesthetic expectation and functional needs. But with increased awareness around climate change and global pollution, the need to recycle and upcycle plastics is now stronger than ever. Using recycled materials and upcycled products in architecture and interior design has seen an upward trend. This kind of repurposing of previous furnishings is expected to be featured heavily in 2019 interior design trends.
We have already seen the use of recycled materials in commercial spaces, so it only makes sense that it’s popping up in office design ideas as well. This is more than just doing the right thing for sustainability. It can also become a competitive tool for businesses to boost their brand image.
There are so many clever office design ideas out there for making the best use out of recycled materials, from reclaimed furniture to wall coverings made from recycled materials. When evaluating materials, an interior designer should adopt a life-cycle approach. This means to consider the environmental impacts generated by each phase of production, use and the disposal of materials.
5. Make it Fun
Install a small gym or – if space allows – a swimming pool, set out a small café, or even put in an inter-office pub. If your employees enjoy spending time on company premises, they are more likely to put in longer working hours, even as they enjoy the amenities that you have provided.
Working long hours – for example, an unbroken eight-hour shift – is counterintuitive for humans as a species, so being able to take a proper break away from technology and phone calls and urgent emails can work as a reset button, enabling them to work at higher levels of productivity for longer, for example, in two five-hour shifts.
Workplace design trends are acknowledging the need for people to be positively induced to step up their productivity, and these examples are not only proven to boost morale and profits, but they make being at work a desirable state of affairs.
These sorts of investments boost employee morale and heighten productivity: any funds paid out will soon repay themselves.