It has become something of a K2 Space tradition that every year, our team of office designers, workplace strategists, and furniture experts meet to discuss office design trends that we individually, and in many cases collectively feel will become prevalent over the coming year. This year is no different and in keeping with tradition, we recently sat down and discussed the office design trends to watch out for in 2020.
But first, let’s quickly recap on some of our predictions over the past few years including an increase in residential-style interiors and elements of biophilic design in 2017, the rise of the unconventional workspace and open collaboration space in 2018, and last year, growth in spaces designed for concentration and reflection. You can read our past articles below:
The Workplace in 2019
Our team always kick things off by discussing the evolution of the workplace over the past decade or so and find that conversations around trends that flow from this are where key trends become obvious and are highlighted.
We all know that the modern workplace is continually evolving and becoming increasingly employee-centric with a heightened focus on not just providing staff with the right tools and tech, but also an environment where they can prosper. Of course, the benefits here are two-fold with workplaces which are more focused on the needs of the employee proven to be more productive and interestingly, cost-effective, as absenteeism is decreased, staff retention is improved and attracting talent to a workplace with a good reputation becomes an easier task.
This logic has entered many boardrooms over the past decade or so with many major brands regularly creating workplaces which make a real statement, and which are designed to attract and retain the very best talent. However, what is very exciting is the fact that companies of all sizes, large and small are buying into the benefits of creating a workplace that they and their staff can be proud of.
Office Design Trends in 2020
That’s enough context, and without further ado, here are a selection of office design trends to watch out for in 2020 (and beyond), from the K2 Space team.
Workers crave Natural Light
As humans, we are drawn to nature and daylight, and while optimizing natural light is not necessarily a new or groundbreaking office design trend, its importance has certainly grown to a point where effective daylighting strategies are becoming almost mandatory. In fact, a K2 Space survey back in 2018 highlights the importance of natural light in the workplace, as from 1000 UK respondents, >1 In 3 cited access to natural light as a major concern and something they would like to see improved.
Natural light offers an abundance of benefits and our dedicated article on natural light in the workplace explains how it can positively impact on employee wellbeing, productivity and happiness. Office designers strive to incorporate as much natural light as possible into any design, and while this can be a complex task, depending on the building and space in question, simple things like taking care where workspaces are positioned, utilizing smart lighting solutions to complement natural light and also thinking creatively about how any outdoor or rooftop spaces can be made usable can have a major impact.
Sustainability is King
As sustainability, consumption and climate change issues take centre stage at a global level, there has been a tangible increase in demand for workplace furniture and materials which have strong sustainable credentials. While many larger offices endeavour to attain a BREEAM, LEED or Green Building Standard rating/accreditation for their space, an increasing number are taking a proactive, hands-on approach when it comes to selecting materials and furniture and many stipulate a preference for reclaimed and/or upcycled materials and furniture which is circular and has a high level of recycled content.
Over the past couple of years, the K2 team have been privileged to work on projects where reclaimed floorboards and bricks, upcycled furniture (soft seating, side tables, couches), and antique pieces have been used in abundance. This is a trend which we believe will grow in prominence and importance over the coming years and are where office design and furniture specialists will need to work alongside manufacturers to ensure more and more products meet client needs.
Last year, we referenced an emerging office design trend whereby offices were embracing old, iconic buildings and space and breathing life back into them. We’ve actually worked on several mews houses over the past 18 months where the design objective centred around embracing the character and nostalgic quality of the building- you can view a good example of our work with Bericote Properties by clicking here.
While this trend is still pertinent, what we mean here is the addition of feature pieces and furniture that are specifically chosen as a nod to the past, that embody where the brand evolved from and/or simply add a sense of fun to the workplace. We’ve seen several vinyl players, more than a few pinball machines, a retro gaming machine with Tetris, Space Invaders and Pacman and even a 70’s inspired breakout space. Company history and old examples of branding and advertising are also becoming more popular, and visible in the workplace as companies attempt to educate employees and visitors of its history and origins. Put simply, they want their space to tell their story.
Rethinking the boardroom
The traditional boardroom has not fundamentally evolved to any great degree, but we feel that’s about to change, as companies embrace new ways of collaborating and question the amount of space it can require. More informal team stand up meetings are popular in the creative and IT sectors and as teams become more remote, the importance of a dedicated boardroom has diminished.
Sure, the boardroom and meeting rooms in general still have a part to play but more flexible, multipurpose spaces are now what are frequently asked for. Spaces that can act as a boardroom when required but which can also be used for other group activities and increasingly, have the ability to split into multiple, smaller spaces – retractable wall systems have been the norm for some time, but think really seamless spaces which can be reconfigured with little or no expertise.
The Nook and Cranny – The unconventional space
We first referenced the unconventional space and how workplace designers were harnessing every available nook and cranny as workspaces back in our Office Design Trends to watch in 2018 piece, but that trend has accelerated since then, so let’s revisit.
What we mean by unconventional spaces are those areas that in the past have not been even considered as spaces where staff could work from – think corridors, window ledges or even an open space under the stairs, known industry-wide as the ‘third space’. Technology has of course driven this trend and enabled staff to work from anywhere within the workplace with plug and play spaces located throughout many offices. This trend also feeds into the need for privacy and spaces away from the desk, and together they provide staff with a variety of options to choose to work from.
The third space has long been a matter of intense debate among architects and office designers as both strive to maximise the usability of any space while also making it feel too functional. In addition, the rise of agile work practices and access to the right tools (tablet, laptop) have also fueled this trend and we expect workspaces to continue using the ‘third space’ in a variety of unconventional manners over the coming years.
Other office design trends to watch out for in 2020 (and beyond)
- Bold colours, prints, even wallpapers are back in vogue – you heard it here first
- Mindfulness will come to the fore as companies look to create workplaces that provide spaces for concentration, study/research and even quiet time + reflection. More on this in our dedicated Mindfulness in the workplace article
- Outdoor working spaces will become more commonplace (this includes rooftops and even balconies
- Going the extra mile – companies will include spaces designed to be different, to stand out but ultimately to create a competitive advantage when attracting the very best talent. Dedicated gyms, yoga rooms, music rooms for jamming (yes, they exist), and even a sauna
- A subtle change to the traditional reception to be more concierge or hospitality orientated – we’ve seen a few requests for ‘something different’ for a reception or welcome space but it remains to be seen what shape or form that will take but once we do, we’ll have an article ready.
That’s all for this year but let’s check back in, in a years’ time and see if our crystal ball was working well or not. In the meanwhile, if you need our teams help to create an amazing new office or to refresh an existing space, we’d love to talk – call us on 020 7697 4670 or email [email protected].