As the rate of technological advancement continues to increase exponentially, it’s become clear that what office spaces need, above all else, is to be able to adapt to whatever the next innovations will be. Therefore, as we hurtle towards the second decade of the 21st century, developing areas within offices that are fluid and mobile and ready for change is essential.
Flexible and future-proof…
One word that’s used a lot these days to describe the successful modern office is ‘future-proof’. A well-designed office must be ready to take in its stride whatever the future throws at it. This means extending the concept of flexibility even to the layout of the office itself, and being ready and willing to change whatever needs changing. One of the best ways of achieving this level of flexibility is by favouring modular furniture, which is to say, furniture that can be put together, taken apart, adapted, extended and reconfigured whenever the need arises.
Modular furniture design is coming into its own at the moment and, whether we’re talking about soft seating, work stations, desk pods, acoustic pods, meeting booths or multi-person meeting-point tables, there has been a huge spike in elegant flexible furniture that doesn’t sacrifice style and quality for relative lack of permanence.
Smart and fully integrated…
It’s also essential going forward, if only from an economic standpoint, that office spaces are designed with technological integration firmly in mind. One of the next innovations likely to slip into everyday usage is wireless device charging, particularly if Apple integrate the functionality into their next iPhone. So we can easily imagine that the offices of the near future will have all kinds of sub-surface charging solutions and other technological capabilities built in to their furniture and infrastructure. With this in mind, 2017 is almost certainly the year in which the Wi-Fi revolution really begins to take hold.
It’s also a big year for collaboration…
2017 will see workplaces becoming much more collaborative affairs, with group working being ever more passionately encouraged. Offices will see more project tables and multi-use hot desks, enabling workers to brainstorm as and when the need arises.
This desire for greater office togetherness is also reflected in the increase in workplace social spaces, which will be increasingly designed not only with comfort in mind — with more sofa and soft seating areas — but also with a view to encouraging the social aspect. Now that technology has freed people from the tyranny of the permanent desk, workers can carry their laptops to in-office social areas, where the trend is for ever-greater home comforts. Indeed, the line between work and socialising is becoming ever more blurred as modern offices incorporate bars, cafés, table football and ping pong, the idea being to increase bonding and ultimately, productivity.
Office design for life…
Another definite office design trend you’ll notice in 2017 is the increased importance that designers and architects are now giving to the well-being of office employees. Company bosses are finally accepting that the well-being and general health of their employees really does have a positive impact on workplace productivity, and results in lower staff turnover and employee costs. Who knew?
The kind of design we’re talking about ranges from more ergonomic furniture such as sit-stand desks and treadmill workstations, to the adoption of a healthier corporate culture that incorporates comfort, privacy, light and gym membership.
On a similar tip, 2017 will also see a huge increase in the amount of plants in offices, with larger companies even offering roof-gardens and allotment areas to green-fingered staff.
In summary then, 2017 looks like a delicious cocktail of the flexible and the modular, with the accent on staff welfare, Wi-Fi technology and plants.