From sprawling campuses to towering skyscrapers, office space design looks different everywhere you go. It’s what is beneath the shiny glass surface that employees care about.  Workspace trends constantly change. We’ve gone from segmented rooms to cubicles to open spaces to flexible space models. The big office trends for this year focus on enhancing the office space for all workers.

Embedded artificial intelligence

You would have to have your head in a hole to not have heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) in commercial real estate buildings. It’s more efficient and economical to have lights, temperature, and humidity tied into occupancy sensors that automatically turn on and off the systems. Why have the meeting room constantly running the HVAC unit to maintain a cool 64 all the time when it may only be used three hours a day?

This AI embedded tech goes beyond a network sensor. It’s improving building security, monitoring the hardware for maintenance problems, and enhancing customer service. Embedded AI isn’t just hardware-driven. Look at one of the next big tech trends: chatbots. Companies an use this AI tech to create personal assistants that handle scheduling, to process vital data, to automate workflows, to troubleshoot employee questions, and as first-line customer support. Spicework’s Future of IT research claims an, “early 20% of companies have already deployed chatbots in the workplace, with an anticipated 57% by 2021.”

Flexible workspaces

The new interior design trend marries collaborative workspaces with individual space. More businesses are recognizing that no two tasks and no two workers have similar space needs. People who are doing a highly technical work don’t always find collaborative work spaces productive. High performance workers want to be able to choose between sitting down in a quiet room to bang out work or sitting around a table and brainstorming.

However, the ability to collaborate with fellow employees can spark creativity and relationship-building that leads to positive outcomes. The challenge is finding the balance in how workplaces are designed between encouraging this open concept and letting people get down to business. Businesses still need room to meet with the entire team. That’s why more office buildings are experimenting with shared or flex space for their tenants.

Amenity spaces

Free coffee as an amenity is so 1980. The amenity space is one important recruiting and retention tool for businesses. Sure, we’ve heard of big brands offering chill lounges with games, both of the pool table and the video variety.  

True amentity spaces go beyond trying to seem hip to millennials. They have a purpose in making workers productive. We’re seeing businesses offering cafes as a place to chat, socialize, or work. Multi-purpose spaces bring fitness and wellness classes into lunch hour. Other businesses have created libraries that employees can go and work in or other private areas. At California State University, their Wellness Center includes decompression pods for students to use.

When thinking about amenities, it’s not always what’s included inside the four walls. The NAIOP wrote that being located near a park or walking trail can encourage employees to get some fresh air in return invigorated. A workspace with a courtyard, or a garden, or a rooftop lounge area, can be a great boon to creating a space for creative collaboration and battery recharging.

Green Design

The idea of “green design” could mean different things to different people.  Some view green design as environmentally friendly construction and architecture practices. Others interpret green design as ways to improve employee wellness through layout and building features.

However you view green space design, consider a Harvard study cited by Adi Gaskell. “It emerged that when we work in green-certified offices, we get a 26% boost in cognition, and 30% fewer sickness related absences. What’s more, respondents also reported a 6% rise in their sleep quality.”

Numerous studies prove green design practices improve cognition and mood. In the office space, the priorities should be natural lighting, air quality, and natural elements. Lighting is especially key. People who are next to or near windows tend to be more productive and have less absenteeism that those situated away from windows. Including real plants, or design elements using wood, rock, and water make a space feel more relaxed and calm.

One cool aspect of working in a shared space is developers put serious thought about productivity and worker needs into the design. Coworking naturally has flexible workspaces: meeting rooms, open areas, and lounges. Many try to incorporate natural light into their layout and use AI tech in their physical structure and community. Check out SharedSpace’s meeting rooms as an example of trending office design practices.


Savanna Jimenez

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