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Where Offices are Headed in 2019
Office design trends have changed dramatically over the past few years. Offices are looking less beige, stuffy, fluorescent and boxy and are starting to be more open, greener and collaborative. In 2019, office designs that don’t encourage creativity or make employees feel welcome and comfortable have become less common. With modern trends slowly taking over, does your office work in favor of your employees’ happiness and productivity, or against? Here are six trends that Silicon Valley startups are taking to heart in 2019.
ConnectedThe “Internet of Things” (IoT) continues to expand its reach in 2019. With Alexa and Siri having moved into the homes of millions, coffee makers, front doors, refrigerators, and almost every other appliance is joining the party. Last year, “phygital” entered the lexicon as the physical and digital experience began to blur. Retail locations have begun to use these phygital experiences by adding e-commerce elements like digital catalogs and interfaces. In 2019, it’s expected that the wave of IoT connected devices breaks through to the office environment.
In some startups, augmented reality (AR) is being used to give staff training on equipment and offer directions around a foreign workspace. Boeing is an example of a major company using augmented reality to increase the efficiency of its assembly workers. With the AR industry estimated to be worth upwards of $120 billion by 2020, this trend is only expected to grow. Connect your office by investing in these smart appliances. Some ambitious startups are even looking to create an environmental “bubble” for individual employees with an array of sensors and connected tools, allowing them to control the temperature, light and sound conditions around them.
The Apple-inspired, decade-long obsession with ultra-modern, clean and sparse design has come to an end. Ditch the emotionless white and spruce up the work environment with elements that make people feel like they’re at a second home. Add rugs to communal areas, cut back on the fluorescent lighting, introduce plants and allow employees to bring in personal items to decorate their space. Google has adopted this approach, and newer companies like Lyft are boldly advancing the human-first approach in both their brand and their office design. When work becomes less uptight and more playful, employees feel like their creativity is permitted and encouraged. Office furniture need not be uniform, but it should accommodate the individual needs of staff.
PersonalizedAs offices become more connected, new technologies like Power over Ethernet (PoE) and LED systems will allow the built environment to interact with their inhabitants. Smart lighting can imitate daylight and adapt with the seasons to allow the body’s natural rhythm to be maintained. Advanced cooling and heating systems can also interact with the external environment and be adjusted by user preference to create a personalized indoor climate. Swipe cards and be replaced with newer RFID sensor solutions that can allow them to access various parts of the building more easily. 2019 will also see an uptick in “smart” furniture that has built-in charging sockets and more sophisticated wireless charging and cable management.
SustainableWhile “sustainability” is hardly a new term, it continues to play an important role in office design in 2019. Everything from the materials and construction of the furniture in the office to ease of recycling and power savings, going green is still very much a concern of companies large and small. Patagonia and H&M have made headlines recently for their sustainable practices both in their product design and the office space. How will your office address its carbon footprint?
Paperless offices are nearly the norm in 2019, but you can go further by using compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs wherever possible. New bulb designs use up to 75 percent less energy than older incandescent light bulbs. Low-flow faucet aerators and low-flush toilets can also significantly reduce office water consumption (and water bills). If you’re designing an office remodel, have you considered what you’ll do with the old furniture? Extend the useful life of those items by diverting them from a landfill and partnering with a non-profit or other organization that could use them.
HealthyAnother evergreen trend, there are some health-related microtrends that will continue to gain in popularity in 2019. While first described as a fad, the furniture industry has acknowledged the shift from traditional desks to standing desks. The “sitting is the new smoking” movement has more employees ditching their chairs and demanding sit-to-stand desks from their employers. Standing desks show no signs of slowing in 2019, so be sure to consider offering them to your employees.
Workout rooms and exercise equipment is also becoming more common in the modern office. An hour-long or even 10-minute workout break can keep employees from falling into the after-lunch slump. Dedicating a space for employees looking to exercise and wash up afterward can go a long way in attracting new talent and keeping your existing workforce healthy and engaged.
In 2019, Work happens anywhere and everywhere. People are connected to their workplace via satellite offices, their home office and even while on their commute. Assigned cubicles are far from the only place where work gets done, and the modern office should reflect that. Startups are designing their offices for modularity and flexibility, allowing employees to move their workspaces on a whim to better collaborate with their coworkers or to transition one functional area of the office into another. Desks and work dividers are increasingly on wheels, lighter weight and meant to move. Who needs to reserve a conference room when employees can quickly convert their private spaces into an impromptu meeting space? Wheel a mobile whiteboard from shared space to shared space to create a smooth transition from meeting to meeting.
Whether your office design hasn’t changed since the new millennium or if you’re looking to stay on top of current trends, there’s plenty of exciting new developments in workplace design in 2019. Your office might not change, but the workforce is. Younger generations have wildly different expectations of what “work” looks like. If you want to attract and retain this new talent, make sure they feel like they’re working in a place that values their comfort, health, and wellbeing.
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