The way we work is ever-evolving, and design plays a key role in ensuring that employees are effective, enthusiastic, and happy. The role of workplace design has progressed towards a people-centric approach that balances traditional workplace efficiency while embracing newer concepts such as employee well-being, sustainability, and overall wellness.
This is demonstrated best by the recent adoption of the “open concept” office. Until recently the idea of an open-concept office space would have seemed absurd to many employers and facility managers who saw the traditional closed-off cubicle spaces as the most practical and efficient design concept. Fast forward to today you will notice that the open concept floor plan has taken over many of the office landscapes.
With the open collaborative office concept now a standard in today’s office designs, what will the offices of tomorrow look like?
The idea of well-being means many things in the corporate world, and it only continues to diversify and spread. Well-being is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous,” which is now fully entrenched in office design as much as it is in your corporate health initiatives. The office spaces of tomorrow will increasingly inspire workers, improve overall wellness, and encourage comfort. Although this trend is new, it’s one of the fastest-growing trends on our list.
Nowhere is this shift towards well-being more evident than the meteoric rise of WELL and LEED.
The WELL Building Standard (WELL) is a new and increasingly popular building initiative. WELL officially kicked off in 2014 and is the first building standard to focus solely on maximizing the human experience. WELL is based on the concepts of Air quality, Water quality, Nutrition habits, Light quality, Fitness and physical activity, Comfort levels, and the Mind, which focuses on supporting mental and emotional health.
In addition to WELL, there is the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED certification focuses on designing and maintaining environmentally conscious buildings using best-in-class energy and sustainability practices with the goal of helping to create greener communities and happier, healthier people. Since LEED’s inception in 2000, improvements in lighting design were shown to increase productivity by 23%, having access to windows and natural daylight provided an 18% boost, and improved ventilation systems provided a productivity increase of 11% (1).
Biophilic design & architecture
In Biophilic Design, the use of lighting, architectural forms found in nature, and spaces that reflect natural elements are the keys to a successful and highly functional design. This trend goes beyond simply adding plants to your office, Biophilic Design is making your office a reflection of the natural world which is why it’s having so much success in large metropolitan areas as well as tech hubs.
The fact that this trend is increasingly prevalent in office architecture is a testament to the very real benefits that employees and employers are experiencing from these designs.
“We know from our research that plants can lower physiological stress, increase attention span, and improve employee well-being,” said Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation at Ambius. “There have been long-term experiments carried out in real-life situations which confirm that bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work. Businesses should rethink their design processes, not only for the health of the employees but for the financial health of the organization as well.”
A trend that everyone has likely encountered within the past six months is Industrial Design. Metals, reclaimed wood, exposed brick – you will definitely see this trend grow throughout the year as it gains in popularity. The trend is an amalgamation of designs that incorporates the industrial days of old mixed with the contemporary and modern elegance of today.
“Essentially the old recycled look is getting a polish. This design reflects our modern lifestyle, the growing awareness and acceptance of the world as it was and as it is today,” said Ambius expert designer Laura Burns-Lambert. “I think design has gotten simpler and cleaner due to our constant over-stimulation. The spaces of today are clean and airy and help us to remain grounded. This is perfectly reflected in this design.”
Color and workspace design
Neutral colors are making a comeback in 2016, but there’s a big difference compared with the cold corporate grays and whites of old.
“Overall, whites and grays with pops of bright color are on the rise,” said Burns-Lambert. “Yellow and gray, chartreuse and white, these are some of the color blends that we’re seeing more of in offices today.”
Pantone’s color selections will be seen as influencers in the pops of color brought out through textiles, furnishings, and accent walls.
Living plants in the workplace
Having plants in office spaces is nothing new. The trend has been around since the 1960s, but the industry has been on a roll recently with a wealth of new research documenting the dramatic benefits of bringing nature indoors being released. In fact, with the average American spending nearly 90 percent of their time indoors, it’s more important than ever to have plant’s Biophilic elements in your working environments.
“Interior plants can no longer be considered a luxury. They are a demonstrably valuable and cost-effective way of enhancing the indoor environment by improving air quality, cooling the building, reducing noise, and more,” said Freeman. “There are powerful arguments for the inclusion of plants in today’s office buildings.”
Plants and design styles are contingent and specific to each business, but there are certain plant design trends that have risen in popularity over the past year, and their popularity only continues to climb.
“Living green walls are one exciting new way to integrate plants into the office space. We’re also seeing a rise in the use of air plants, plants with large green leaves such as Ficus Pandurata, Strelitzia, and Philodendron Monstera,” said Burns-Lambert. “Basically any plant or container that was popular during the 1970s is making a comeback.”
Modern rustic design
Similar to the industrial design but bolder and utilizing more plants, the Modern Rustic design is one of the newest design trends to look out for in 2016. Architecturally the designs incorporate the rustic features of antiques and flawed reclaimed wood with modern glass walls, open concepts, and lots of plants.
Stylistically the design incorporates the idea that less is more, and puts an emphasis on dramatic, bold pieces and colors to compliment the minimalist design. Colors usually err on the bolder and darker side and incorporate gold or silver accents to go along with the glass and natural woods. The most prominent color in this design is black.
The Modern Rustic trend builds off of the airy open designs of today but integrates plants such as Ficus Lyrata and utilizes vintage ceramic cylinder containers to create relaxing and poignant environments. The influence of sustainability is felt throughout, which is a logical approach for a design with such an emphasis on minimalism and rustic themes. This includes the use of recycled and refurbished materials, sustainable design and lighting concepts to reduce energy output, and the use of plants to keep spaces naturally cooler in temperature.
Want to learn more about Biophilic Design? Find out more by reading Biophilic Design: The Secret to Creating a Better Workspace!
( 1) World Green Building Council, THE BUSINESS CASE FOR GREEN BUILDING S