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Office Design Trends 2023
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/ Office Design Trends 2023

Office Design Trends 2023

Office design trends are constantly evolving to meet the needs of a rapidly changing workforce. In this article, we will take a look at some of the key trends in 2023 that are shaping the modern workplace, and how these trends are helping to create comfortable, productive, and engaging office environments. Whether you are an office manager, a business owner, or an employee, these trends are sure to have an impact on the way you work in the coming year.

1. Well-being in the Workplace

Well-being in the workplace refers to the physical, mental, and emotional health of employees within a business or organisation. It has become an increasingly important consideration in office design and workplace management, as it can significantly impact employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall organisational performance.

According to recent data from the “Workplace Wellbeing Index” one-third of the UK’s working population suffers from mental illness each year. The effects of financial strain on psychological well-being are projected to become more noticeable in 2023. The rising costs of energy will also have a further impact on real disposable incomes and the financial considerations of employees.

Enhancing well-being in the workplace through office design can lead to a healthier and happier workforce. A good example of this is 105 Victoria Street in central London where the owners have expanded the property with 30,000 square feet of green space, equivalent to 14 tennis courts, featuring an urban farm and a walking track for conversation.

While not offices have the luxury of outdoor space, there are many indoor considerations that can improve well-being. Some tips for achieving this include selecting office furniture for physical comfort, providing space for physical activity, designing for ergonomics, incorporating natural light, offering wellness features, allowing for green spaces, providing collaborative spaces, and encouraging work-life balance. Other factors that can contribute to well-being in the workplace include providing support for mental health, promoting healthy eating and hydration, and fostering a positive company culture.

Office Design Trend 1. Well-being in the Workplace

Here are our 8 tips for creating a healthier, happier workforce:

  1. Select Office Furniture for Physical Comfort: Providing staff with ergonomic furniture and equipment such as sit-stand desks, ergonomic chairs, and pivotal screen monitors.
  2. Ventilation, Lighting and Temperature: Making sure the space has good lighting, ventilation, and temperature control can help to ensure that employees are comfortable and able to work effectively.
  3. Provide Office Space for Physical Activity: Encouraging employees to be physically active, through initiatives such as on-site gyms or fitness classes, can help to improve physical health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  4. Design for Ergonomics: Designing an office with ergonomics in mind can help to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and other physical health problems. This can be achieved through the use of ergonomically designed furniture and equipment, such as adjustable desks and chairs, and the proper positioning of computer monitors and other equipment
  5. Include Natural Light in Your Office Design: Incorporating natural light into the design of an office can help to improve mood and reduce fatigue. This can be achieved through the use of windows and skylights, as well as the strategic placement of artificial lighting.
  6. Provide Wellness Features: Some offices are incorporating wellness features such as standing desks, treadmill desks, and meditation rooms to encourage healthy habits and promote well-being.
  7. Allow for Green Space: Adding plants and other greenery to the office can improve air quality and create a more calming and enjoyable environment.
  8. Provide Collaborative Spaces: Providing spaces for employees to collaborate and interact with each other can promote a sense of community and improve overall well-being.
  9. Encourage Work-life Balance: Encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, through initiatives such as flexible work schedules and remote work options, can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

2. Blending Home, Work, and Third Places

Blending home, work, and third places refer to the integration of different types of spaces and environments in order to create a more flexible and dynamic work environment. This can involve creating spaces within the office that feel more like home, as well as incorporating elements of third places – public spaces outside of work and home where people can socialise and relax – into the office design.

Office Design Trend 2. Blending home, work, and third places

Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg first used the phrase “third place” in the 1980s. Outside of the “first place” (home) and the “second place” (the office), there exists a “third place”. Third places are generally characterised as warm and inviting places where individuals find a comfortable place to work or mingle with others with similar interests. Evidence suggests that third places are especially important for community building because they level the playing field by which people of different socioeconomic backgrounds may interact.

Examples of third places include hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, gyms, and spas. What offices are doing nowadays is incorporating third space ideas into their space planning and zoning activities as part of the overall office fit outs and refurbishment process. Having “third places” within the office provides a respite for workers. It acts as a social magnet that encourages employees to break out of a “business only” mindset and have the kind of informal conversations that foster a sense of community and generate creative ideas.

The purpose of these areas is to avoid the formality of traditional meeting rooms. Employees in third spaces are more likely to socialise and bond with one another, which encourages accidental encounters and moments of inspiration. Lounge areas and designated collaboration zones are just some examples of how the building’s current layout may be rethought to better foster teamwork, collaboration, and camaraderie. And it’s not just spaced within the office. Courtyards, patios, and decks can also be converted to third places. There are several benefits to blending home, work, and third places in the office:

  1. Improved work-life balance: By creating a work environment that feels more like home, employees may feel more comfortable and able to relax, which can help to improve work-life balance.
  2. Increased creativity and innovation: Incorporating elements of third places into the office design, such as comfortable seating and social areas, can create a more relaxed and informal atmosphere that can stimulate creativity and innovation.
  3. Enhanced employee satisfaction: By creating a more flexible and dynamic work environment that feels more like home, employees may feel more satisfied with their work and more engaged with their work tasks.
  4. Increased productivity: By creating a more comfortable and relaxing work environment, employees may be more productive and able to focus on their work tasks.

3. Hotelification of the Workplace

The Ritz-Carlton is well known for it’s motto: “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” This anticipatory service culture bodes well with the way modern offices are reshaping themselves around the service industries. Hotelification of the workplace refers to the incorporation of hotel-like amenities and features into the design of an office space. This can include features such as comfortable seating and common areas, high-quality lighting and air conditioning, and access to food and beverage services.

The hotelification of the workplace is often driven by a desire to create a more comfortable and welcoming work environment, as well as to improve employee enjoyment and productivity. Providing employees with access to amenities and services that are typically found in hotels, businesses and organizations can create a more enjoyable and relaxing work environment.

Office Design Trend 3. Hotelification of the Workplace

4. Creating Commute-worthy Workspaces

The “commute-worthiness” of workplaces is a hot topic for 2023. More of the UK’s working population is relocating further from city centres, where rent and property are more affordable. According to Hamptons, during the first six months of 2022, Londoners purchased 40,540 residences outside the city, a 19% increase above the pre-Covid average of 2015-2019. Additionally, ONS statistics revealed a 26.1% decline in commuting across the United Kingdom, with the greatest in London (36.8%) and the South East (29.2%). At the same time, the cost of commuting to cities for work is rising. According to the OBR, fuel duty is expected to climb by 23 per cent in March 2023, while rail tickets are expected to increase by approximately 12 per cent, the largest increase on record.

Office Design Trend 4. Creating Commute-Worthy Offices

With a large pool of talent outside of London, companies looking to attract and retain top personnel will need to provide a competitive edge in 2023.

How office design can help make offices “commute-worthy”?

The transition back to working in an office after long periods of remote work can be difficult for some employees, especially if they have grown accustomed to the flexibility and autonomy of working from home. Some employees may be excited to return to the office and the social interactions it provides, while others may be hesitant, fearing a return to long commutes and a lack of control over their work environment.

After two years of working from home, employees may have developed their own routines and habits that may be difficult to change. They may also need to adapt to new protocols and policies put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of employees in the office.

Here are a few considerations to take into account in the selection, design and building of new offices:

  1. Choose a Central Location: Choosing a convenient location for your office that is easily accessible by public transportation or with ample parking can make the office more attractive to commuting staff. London, for instance, is a great choice for office space, as it’s well-connected to other cities by public and private transport.
  2. Provide amenities: Offering amenities such as showers, lockers, and bike storage to make it easier for employees who bike or walk to work. You may even consider providing a shuttle service or subsidising public transportation costs to help employees who take public transportation.
  3. Offer flexible work options: Allow employees some time to work remotely or have flexible schedules to reduce the time and cost of commuting. This can also improve work-life balance and increase employee satisfaction during the current cost of living crisis.
  4. Make the office space comfortable and welcoming: Create a comfortable and welcoming office space that encourages productivity and helps employees feel at home. This can include features such as natural lighting, good ventilation, and comfortable seating. A comfortable office should be designed to support the natural movements and postures of the human body. This includes using ergonomically designed furniture, such as adjustable desks and chairs, and ensuring that computer monitors and other equipment are positioned at eye level.
  5. Provide Good lighting: the choice of lighting is important for comfort and productivity. A well-designed office should have a mix of natural and artificial lighting, and it should be possible to adjust the intensity and direction of the light to suit the needs of the individual.
  6. Consider temperature and humidity: The temperature and humidity of an office can have a big impact on comfort. A comfortable office should be well-ventilated and maintain a comfortable temperature and humidity level.
  7. Reduce noise disruption: Noise can be a major source of discomfort in an office setting. A comfortable office should have adequate soundproofing (acoustics) to reduce noise from outside sources, as well as measures in place to reduce the level of noise within the office itself.
  8. Provide flexibility: Allowing employees to work remotely or have flexible schedules can make the office more attractive, as it can reduce the time and cost of commuting and improve work-life balance.
  9. Allow collaboration: Designing the office to encourage collaboration and social interaction can make it more attractive to commuting staff, as it can provide opportunities for networking and building relationships with colleagues.
  10. Consider office aesthetics: An office should be visually appealing and create a positive and welcoming atmosphere. This can be achieved through the use of colours, textures, and other design elements that support the desired mood and atmosphere of the space.

5. Smart Offices

There has been an increased shift towards the use of smart buildings and technology in the workplace. A smart office is a modern office space that uses technology to improve the efficiency, productivity, and comfort of its occupants. This can include things like automated lighting and temperature control and air quality, lighting and natural light levels, space utilisation, smart appliances and furniture, and connectivity to the internet and other devices. Smart offices may also use sensors and data analytics to gather information about the use of the space and to optimise its operation. The goal of a smart office is to create a more efficient and pleasant work environment that allows employees to be more productive and innovative.

Office Design Trend 5. The Smart Office

6. Artwork in the Workplace

Including artwork as a feature in prominent areas adds key brand messages. Wall art or graphics communicates the brand to staff and visitors. Including artwork in an office has been proven to be more than merely decorative. It can help to boost productivity, enhance company culture, and inspire creativity. Neuroscience studies have also shown that art can have a calming effect on the mind; reducing cortisol levels and in turn, reducing stress. For more information on this see our article on the impact of art in the workplace.

Office Design Trend 6. Artwork in the workplace

7. Hybrid Working

Before the epidemic, people’s jobs were firmly rooted in offices. Then all of a sudden there was a global shift to remote work. The drawback to the office created what we now know as hybrid workspaces – collaborative spaces built for transition between home and the office.

For the most part, traditional workplaces are designed to accommodate a majority of staff being present at any given time. That construct had been evolving over the years but the pandemic has accelerated this trend with a majority of employers now embracing Hybrid Work Practices as the norm. There are a number of reasons for this, not least because the top talent now expects this flexibility while it also offers companies the opportunity to downsize large floor plates to accommodate smaller capacities.

In terms of hybrid working and how it impacts actual physical office design, it has led to growing importance and emphasis on designing a workplace to act as a social anchor, a space where human interaction is encouraged through smart design and layout. Whilst employees will increasingly work away from the office, the need for face-to-face encounters when in the office paradoxically becomes all the more critical.

This involves rethinking spaces to look at typical flows or journeys through a workplace and optimising them to encourage and stimulate conversation and interaction – think social/breakout spaces, think kitchen areas, think coffee machines, think water coolers, and critically as designers think about we can motivate occupants to interact with these spaces and consequently colleagues.

It also entails providing employees with a variety of work settings within the physical workplace, so they can choose how they want to work, depending on the work they are performing. This is something we have long advocated at K2, and if you read previous trend pieces, you’ll see it is a recurring theme. It’s also a handy segue into our next trend.

8. Incorporating Organic Shapes and Forms

Organic shapes in office design refer to the use of irregular, curving, and naturalistic forms in the design of office spaces. These shapes are often inspired by natural forms and patterns and can be used to create a more dynamic and visually interesting workspace.

Increased emphasis on employee comfort, health, and connection to nature is driving this trend toward organic design in the workplace. This includes reconfigurable furniture systems to generate space fluidity and natural, muted colour schemes are essential to realising a successful organic and natural setting.

Organic shapes can be incorporated into office design in a variety of ways, including through the use of curving walls and partitions, irregularly shaped furniture, and natural materials such as wood and stone. These shapes can be used to create a variety of different effects, including a sense of movement, flow, and connection with nature.

There are several benefits to using organic shapes in office design, including:

  1. Enhanced visual interest: Organic shapes can create a more dynamic and visually interesting workspace, which can be beneficial for employee satisfaction and engagement.
  2. Improved creativity and innovation: The use of irregular and naturalistic shapes can stimulate creativity and innovation, as they can provide a sense of novelty and surprise.
  3. Enhanced sustainability: By using natural materials and forms, businesses and organisations can create a more sustainable and environmentally conscious workplace.
  4. Improved branding and image: The use of organic shapes can help to create a unique and distinct branding and image for a business or organisation.

The image below is a project we completed for Mirastar where we incorporated a range of shapes and textures throughout the design, which added depth and personality to the space.

Office Design Trend 8. Incorporating Organic Shapes and Forms into the Workplace

9. Dynamic Work Settings

As referenced earlier, we are strong advocates of designing a workplace that empowers staff and which provides settings to suit all work styles and work types. As staff becomes less tied to a stationary, sedentary work setting, perched at a desk from 9-5, the workplace has adapted (and will continue to do so) to include spaces designed to facilitate concentration, collaboration, reflection, and also Mindfulness and Wellbeing are core themes whenever we discuss office design with clients and whether they are moving to a new space or refurbishing an existing space, the focus has shifted to ensuring the workplace works for those working in it.

You can find out more in our Office Design and Mindfulness article but essentially, workplaces need to provide spaces where staff can:

  1. Concentrate: The desk can be a space where individuals can concentrate but at times, it can be difficult to immerse oneself in a detailed report or proposal without being disturbed by what is occurring in the proximity. A popular alternative is to create dedicated concentration spaces akin to a library where the same rules apply – no noise, no distraction, and certainly no mobile phone usage.
  2. Collaborate: Meeting rooms have long been the place for collaboration but over the past number of years, many progressive workspaces have incorporated dedicated collaboration spaces or hubs which are less traditionally furnished and more geared towards interaction with smart technology like interactive whiteboards, writable walls, and in today’s climate screens to involve virtual participants.
  3. Connect: As Hybrid Working becomes the norm, staff working in the office will increasingly need spaces where they can connect with colleagues working remotely via a video chat or group call. Rather than having individuals use up full meeting rooms, small pods and subtle barriers (like voile curtains) are gaining in popularity as they provide privacy for individuals to connect, and of course, they are perfect in terms of space utilisation. These spaces need to be plug-and-play and allow users to simply and quickly plug in a laptop to join/start a call.
  4. Recharge: The workplace shouldn’t be all about work as staff members need downtime, time to socialise and recharge, and while canteens or breakout spaces have long formed part of the office environment, they have evolved radically to include barista-quality coffee, an abundance of snacks (almost always healthy) and games (pinball, pool, table football, and even karaoke booths) as standard. However, many offices are now taking things a step further and including dedicated recharge rooms or spaces where staff can take a nap, meditate, do yoga or in the case of one particular client, play a variety of musical instruments.

10. Championing the Sustainable Workplace

Sustainability has risen in importance and 2023 will see an increased emphasis on creating sustainable workplaces. While dedicated certification seems like BREEAM and LEED look at the overall sustainability and energy efficiency of a building, new standards such as WELL Building Standard focus on the holistic well-being of building occupants, and blending these different certifications and standards is key to creating a truly sustainable and healthy workplace.

There are areas where design can have a positive sustainable impact including the use of up-cycled office furniture, materials with high recycled content, and a focus on optimising natural light to reduce energy usage. Coupled with emerging technologies that act to monitor building and space usage or that create a digital twin, it will become easier to implement data-driven changes to improve sustainability and energy efficiency.

Other design considerations which can positively impact sustainability include providing facilities to encourage occupants to cycle to work such as showers and storage, adopting paper-free policies, and/or introducing reusable coffee cups for staff. Employees now expect their employers to be planet conscious and to actively work towards reducing their carbon footprint, and the workplace forms a core part of any sustainability agenda.

Office Design Trend 10. Championing the Sustainable Workplace

11. Biophilic Office Space

Biophilia refers to plant life and it simply means bringing the outdoors indoors. More specifically refers to our instinctive bond with our natural surroundings (see our article on biophilic office design). From living walls to office gardens, we are becoming more in touch with the environment. Plants have various beneficial properties. They help to absorb noise and offer quieter secluded spaces. Plants can also create distinct zones which can help to separate spaces within open-plan offices; for example, the use of crate shelving. Other benefits of having plants in the office include:

  • Improvement in office aesthetics – the breaking up of uniformity and hard lines with natural organic shapes and colours.
  • Reduction in stress levels – being surrounded by nature improves mental health and reduces psychological and physiological stress.
  • Cleaner Air – plants absorb C02 and help to remove toxins from stale office air. In fact, a study by Harvard found that green-certified offices benefited from a significant boost in employee cognition (a 26% increase) and resulted in 30% fewer absences from work.

It’s not just the interior of offices where green spaces are becoming a trend. Some offices are maximising the use of outdoor spaces and rooftops. For instance, Wolff Olins, a design company in London’s King Cross, has an office rooftop garden dedicated to growing vegetables. In the summer employees can take a break from their busy lives to reconnect and tend to the garden. As well as being beneficial for employees, who enjoy the feeling of being in touch with nature, it also provides for productive WIFI-enabled meetings on lavish rooftops. The group renting the office space has also found the garden brings financial rewards by being easy to rent. Raising spirits in the office and feeling connected with nature also brings new inspiration and ideas.

Office Design Trend 11. Biophilic Office Space

We’ll check back a year from now to see if our predictions were accurate. In the meantime, our team would be happy to assist you in creating a fantastic new office or rejuvenating your current space. Contact us at 020 7697 4670 or to discuss your project.

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