Every year brings new initiatives into the workplace, impacting on our individual working patterns, as well as the interior design of our offices. Here are 10 predictions and their implications for office design in 2019.
Demographic shifts will be starting to change the nature of the workplace more noticeably in 2019. Managers need to be ready to accommodate differing attitudes and working styles in the design and layout of their offices.
1. Young people – Generation Z (those born between mid-90s to early 2000s) is likely to make up 36 percent of the workforce by 2020. This is the first generation to grow up entirely in an internet society. They expect software strategies, solutions and online training as a matter of course. This is all very positive, digital and forward thinking – but the downside is sometimes a lack of other skills such as professional written communication. However, ironically this generation often prefer informal face-to-face meetings and liaison, versus electronic – which bodes well for team collaboration.
Uber offices in Amsterdam – credit Office Snapshots
2. Older people – At the other end of the scale, older people are working far longer. A third of the British workforce expects to retire after their 70th birthday. From next year, the state retirement age will increase to 66 by late 2020 and further changes are expected to bring the age up to 67 between 2026 and 2028. Many older workers are working through necessity, not choice, so are likely to be less engaged in the workplace*. This is not just problematic for individuals, but also for businesses. Employers need to carefully manage their experienced talent in the right way to create a productive and happy workforce – with all generations able to work together.
3. Diversity – Overall, the workplace must increasingly address the needs of a young, multi generational, ethnic and ageing workforce with a wide range of different physical and psychological needs. The working space and working culture should be accessible to a wide range of people and create a culture that is welcoming to all.
Beyond Collective Offices, London – credit Office Snapshots
4. Technology has been progressing so fast that we have now reached a point where ‘work’ is almost free from time or space and is everywhere. Offices and digital workplaces are overlapping – both offering their own advantages and challenges. This style embraces truly agile working which Generation Z employees will appreciate, but other employees may resent the digital intrusion into their lives. A new report by Vodaphone claims that businesses who have embraced digital working are much more confident about their futures than those who have not. You can download this report here.
5. Contract and short term project work is increasing. In addition, younger employees are more likely to leave an organisation within five years, than stay longer than five years. This can lead to a lack of employee engagement and decline in productivity, so businesses need to work extra-hard to engage and retain talented people.
6. A focus on well-being will increase in 2019 as organisations become more aware of how the workplace can affect their employees physical and mental health – in terms of how they interact with technology and address issues such as long working hours, digital intrusion and a more diverse workforce. Sustainable buildings and careful workplace design can help with workplace wellness. Plenty of natural light, good lighting, a choice of working and quiet areas and pleasant breakout areas all help here.
Ben Johnson Interiors introduced many elements of the natural world to CPP
Group’s new office in Leeds
7. Co-working will no longer be seen as a concept that simply allows start-ups and freelancers to occupy space at a lower cost amongst similar people . Now it is appealing to a much wider range of organisations, including large companies who like the idea of flexible offices and can use the co-working idea to reorganise teams and acquire talent. Co-working is set to grow dramatically over the next five years.
Ministry Coworking office in London – credit Office Snapshots
8. Corporate social responsibility has become more important than ever for business. More people will want to join employers who have a social mission. Ethical expectations and employee demands are forcing many companies to align their mission, vision and values with those of their employees.
Ben Johnson Interiors doing their bit for Comic Relief
9. Recreational style – Just as work has escaped the walls of the traditional office to infiltrate our homes and public spaces, so these spaces are transforming the designs of offices. Soft seating is now the norm and many more workspaces will include a recreational “landscape” within their offices.
Ben Johnson Interiors designed this impressive “Park-style” meeting area for Mayborn Group
10. All predictions are that 2019 is the year that A1 (Artificial Intelligence) starts to impact extensively on people’s working lives. A report from Spiceworks suggests that 40% of large businesses and 27% of small businesses, in the US and Europe, will implement an intelligent assistant or AI chatbot in the next year.
The workplace design implications for these new trends
Facilities managers need to be aware of these HR trends above to accommodate future teams of people in the best possible surroundings to encourage growth, creativity and a happy, positive atmosphere in the workplace.
To fit demographic changes in the workplace, companies should offer the latest, up-to-the-minute IT facilities, along with plenty of different informal meeting areas near workstations for collaboration. A range of comfortable, open meeting places and private work booths should be offered to suit different ages, working styles, and ethnic backgrounds.
Ben Johnson Interiors designed these meeting areas near workstations in 2018
Ideally breakout zones and kitchen areas should not only offer a choice of attractive, recreational seating and tables – but also diversions such as pool, darts, board games, computer games and TV – to encourage people of all ages and interests to relax, have fun and enjoy time together whilst off duty.
Ben Johnson Interiors designed this break out area for Mayborn Group in 2018
The truly agile, digital workplace with no boundaries must address the needs of those workers who drop in for meetings, briefings or training but who carry out much of their work elsewhere. An easily accessible range of hot desks, screens, digital equipment and private meeting rooms should be available for them at all times, complete with refreshment points and support desk. Take a look at the design of coworking offices springing up around the UK and Europe and see how they cleverly encourage a growing number of clients and stakeholders to use their workspaces, by offering them the latest, excellent, “agile” facilities. See this smart, Leonard:Paris co-working office in Paris, courtesy of Office Snapshots.
Leonard: Paris coworking workspace
To address a decline in engagement and to retain talent, companies should hold regular briefings, company updates and offer ongoing training. A state of the art, digitally enabled training and briefing area can have bi-folding walls for flexibility of use and can also be hired out to stakeholders and visitors in the spirit of networking for all concerned. RTC bi-folding wall
Ben Johnson Interiors designed this training room with bi-folding wall for RTC North in Sunderland
Wellbeing in the workplace is of increasing importance to productivity. Simple basics in your interior design can so easily have an adverse – or positive effect on the mental health of your employees. If you have an open plan office, ensure there are sound-proofed areas to make long, loud, or difficult phone calls, so as not to disturb others. Check heating temperatures regularly and make sure workstations have plenty of natural light. Bring the outside world into the interior with (well-kept) plants, artwork and natural materials. This is known to have a calming effect on the mind.
Whatever type of space we are creating, Ben Johnson Interiors always stays ahead of the curve. We design and build truly amazing interiors that address the needs of the time and beyond. We will reflect your brand perfectly, while inspiring and boosting work performance.
If you’re looking for something along these lines and are UK-based, then give us a call on 01904 698698