We live in a constantly changing world. It sometimes seems as though trends emerge overnight. New attitudes, needs and wants can become commonplace over a relatively short period of time and office design is no different.

Adrian Norman

Head of Design

02nd Jun 2015

It’s fashionable to talk about how technology is the catalyst for workplace change. BYOD (bring your own device), the wireless office and 3D printing are discussed on a regular basis. But, while technology is undoubtedly changing the way we work, many other factors are also influencing office design.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the trends Morgan Lovell’s design team has identified:

Flexible workspaces

As the workforce becomes more flexible, office design needs to reflect this. This means that the workplace as we once knew it could potentially be unrecognisable within a number of years.

Organisations are looking for spaces that facilitate flexible working; spaces that can be easily reconfigured to accommodate different team sizes. This is especially important for companies that work on an agile or project basis.

Adaptable spaces that can be used for ad-hoc meetings, work that requires concentration and or spaces where employees can simply relax over a cup of coffee are becoming increasingly popular. We recently designed a space for IT consultancy ThoughtWorks that can be used as a meeting area, a concentrated workspace and can even be transformed into a games room complete with table-tennis table.

Collaboration is king

Every organisation wants to foster collaboration and encourage employees to interact and engage with each other. Effective collaboration has numerous benefits including increased staff productivity and motivation. Consequently, clients frequently ask us to design workspaces with collaboration in mind.

So how do we do it? Open workplaces help create a sense of community and break down barriers to interaction, which is an important first step. Many companies are also starting to populate open workspaces with large, but flexible desks, which accommodate numerous people, alongside informal meeting areas that encourage spontaneous conversations and serendipitous encounters, the cornerstones of true collaboration.

Interactive interiors are also growing in popularity and many companies are starting to embrace novel concepts such as whiteboards, staff idea walls and inspiration walls.

Kitchen areas and tea points are crucial components of workplace collaboration and relaxing areas where staff can informally catch up and share ideas are now, happily, seen as almost essential.

Workers are generally spending less time at their desks than ever before. As a result, designing effective and comfortable in-between spaces within an office environment is growing in importance and has become a key component of any new office.

A focus on space efficiency

As rents rise, it’s understandable that companies demand that every foot of office space is optimised. This has resulted in an increase in flexible workspaces, with clever utilisation concepts such as shared desks and hot-desking being embraced. This drive for efficiency has been aided by the increasingly mobile workforce who can log in and access information anywhere and at any time, rendering the desk less important.

Turning down the volume

Open-plan workplaces are now the norm and while there are many pros and cons, one of the main concerns raised by our clients has been noise and the level of distractions experienced by staff.

We are seeing the increased introduction of agile working environments, which allow staff to work effectively in different environments within the same space. This often means providing staff with different working options, including quiet areas for concentration, one-person isolation rooms, and alternative styles of meeting areas, designed for different purposes.

Let there be light

Wellbeing in the workplace is a concept growing in popularity, with companies keen to embrace initiatives to promote staff wellbeing. One key aspect of wellbeing that we find ourselves discussing on a regular basis is how we ensure there is enough natural light entering the workplace.

Large windows are becoming popular, as are accessible outdoor areas where staff can work or relax in good weather. Bringing nature indoors is also in vogue, with fresh flowers and plants becoming a feature of many modern offices.

But wellbeing is a far broader concept than just letting a bit of light into the office. Some organisations have started to include perks such as shower facilities to accommodate staff who run to work or who exercise at lunch. Others are adding additional cycle spaces for those using two wheels to commute and, in some cases, making fresh fruit and smoothies available, alongside the very best quality tea and coffee.