Workplace Design Trends to Watch in 2018

As technology continues to flood the workplace, new trends and practices have emerged that change both the way employees use office space and how designers craft it in the first place.

Many technology-related trends continue to evolve in 2018 — especially when it comes to flexible work standards, personalized workplace solutions and the use of virtual reality in design. The continued diversification of types of workspaces, and increased awareness in wellness are other trends to watch in the new year.

More often, we are seeing clients opt for a strategy known as "hoteling," where employees are not assigned a specific, permanent desk in the office. Instead, desk, cubicle and office spaces are shared between employees at only the times they need them. It's something that has become popular as more companies allow employees to work remotely.

However, the trend has created problems of its own that designers have been quick to address. For example, where to keep files, personal items and decor typically kept on an employee's desk. Integrating lockers into the design of the office is one such solution. Another is bringing in someone who would act in the office like a concierge would in a hotel. Their sole purpose is to make sure the day goes very smoothly, that all the technology is working and that everyone has their desks and lockers.

Developing those kinds of personalized designs and creative solutions to problems is also becoming increasingly popular as companies recognize that a "one size fits all" approach isn't always best.  There's a more complex matrix of factors that go into creating a workplace solution now.

Approaching "smarter design" requires designers to take steps such as surveying a client's employees to determine what will best suit their needs. It also means using technology such as sensors and virtual reality. Some larger clients have gone as far as adding sensors to conference rooms and other workspaces to track how many and how often people are using them.

In the world of interior design, VR is used to show clients what a space will look like before it's built out.  While such tools are still largely in a demo phase with only some of the firm's largest clients utilizing it, it is believed VR will really start to mature and become more commonplace in 2018.

From a designer standpoint, it’s learning how to harness that data and make sense of it in a way that can help us design better more effective spaces for our clients.

In the new year, we expect to see diversity in types of workspace continue to be popular among companies. That means giving employees the option to work in different types of spaces including large and small meeting and conference rooms, lounge areas, "heads-down" workspaces, cafe and amenity spaces and more.

A focus on employee wellness is another trend expected to progress in 2018.  That can mean everything from incorporating natural light in a space, to providing a gym or outdoor space such as a terrace for employees to enjoy. This trend is especially prevalent in new builds where designers can make choices such as design a stairwell to be more visible so as to encourage employees to walk rather than take the elevator.

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Open stairwells in the office encourage employees to get their steps in.

It’s not just about changing the physical environment, it’s the people side.  If people don’t understand and buy into it it wont be successful.