Workplace Design Trends


First of all, where do trends come from? 

Global influences can often cause trends to emerge but ultimately, they arise from people and how we behave. Since covid the very concept of ‘trends’ has changed, and the grip of seasonal trends have almost been lost completely. Trend forecasters predict why and when a trend will emerge, how they are reinforced, and when a trend will shift direction. Forecasters can also inform clients about the detail of which trends are relevant to their business. We attended a seminar hosted by Teknion and Phil Pond at Scarlet Opus at Clerkenwell Design Week and took a deeper look at what determines workplace design trends, as well as what we can expect to see in the coming years.

To determine the upcoming commercial interior design trends of 2025, 2026 and 2027, a huge amount of research is undertaken within the industry. Trend forecasters will create and review reports that aim to understand the concerns of people in the workplace in order to find out what their priorities are. Where once forecasters would rely on the world’s news agencies to gather their vital information, they now rely on citizen journalism and social media to gather raw data from a reliable people led source. The data gathered is taken from a wide variety of industries, such as politics, finance, fashion and technology to provide a diverse range of information.

How Behaviours are Shifting and Shaping Workplace Trends

What is happening in Workplace Design? 

There are lots of trends that are shaping the world of work in 2024 and beyond, such as hybrid working, flexibility and collaboration spaces. We will delve deeper in to some of the behaviours that are shifting and shaping workplace trends below, and provide some key insights in to what is happening in workplace design and discussing solutions to some of the challenges businesses face. So, let’s take a look at what we will be covering:

  • Generations at work 
  • Workplace wellbeing 
  • Office biophilia 
  • Designing for all minds 
  • The world of acoustics 
  • Colour trends 

Phil Pond of Scarlet Opus explained that we are currently living in a polycrisis, which naturally can be very unsettling, and that designing with clarity, stability, and wellbeing should be kept in mind over the next few years when determining workplace design trends. Forecasters also predict that home and garden will see a substantial uplift in disposable income spend due to the amount of time spent indoors during the pandemic. Studies show that if that is where people want to be, the office must offer the same comforts. Office design has recently seen a shift and has begun match these patterns; employers are already designing to blend in with home and garden design to make the office more appealing for both new and existing colleagues.

Generations at Work 

The working world is changing as younger generations enter the workplace. Experts in trend forecasting believe that office design is the answer when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. In office design, it is important to keep in mind that younger generations such as Millennials and Generation Z will be filling in the gaps as older generations retire. Therefore, it is vital we take this into account when considering workplaces of the future. Forecasters predict that under 25’s will go to work to be energised, motivated, and educated by older generations, and if employers do not offer the right environment, the younger generation will be more inclined to find a job where they can work from home or become freelance. It is a fact that even in today’s world, younger generations are finding alternative ways to work, and it is no longer the case to be loyal to one company.

All About Wellbeing 

Workplace wellbeing and phycological safety are quickly becoming some of the top concerns on a global scale. Prior to 2020, workplace wellbeing had a very different meaning. Previously, when an employer was concerned about wellbeing, they were mainly conscious about how to keep employees happy enough in the workplace in hopes that their teams would work longer and harder. Employees have now taken control of what wellbeing is, and under 25’s in particular have set these expectations. The new expectations on workplace wellbeing are centred around promoting a healthy work life balance, and where companies are actively supporting this they are seeing a rise in productivity and retention.

In 2022, we were more concerned than ever before about the collective health and wellbeing of those in the office. It was reported that 49% of the UK’s employees felt lonely at work in the same year, proving how important it is to address some of these workplace issues surrounding wellbeing.

Why Biophilia 

Humans naturally go to nature to unwind and feel relaxed, and living in an insecure world there is something we can take away from this when designing offices. Office biophilia is more than just a plant, it can include humans finding comfort in natural materials and finishes and promoting good wellbeing. We are currently moving beyond the beginnings of biophilia, nature is medicinal, and it is changing its significance to us as people. Workplace design will eventually see the integration of nature and life seamlessly, to the point where we wont notice whether we are inside or outside. In the coming years we will start to see workplace design shift towards nature on a deeper level, designing areas with a sole purpose for healing, from healing gardens that double as space for fitness classes, to allotments and growing your own plants at work. This change will be significant to the beauty industry, incorporating plants into the workplace that act as skincare.

Designing for all Minds 

As employers, it is crucial to understand the fact that everyone’s sensory cup is a different size; not everyone can thrive in an open plan office space, nor can everyone work to the best of their ability sat at a desk all day. We’ve spoken about neurodiversity before, and why it is important for employers to consider the needs of everyone, understanding that neurodivergent people can reach capacity much quicker than others is important in an office environment. Attending ZoneND’s seminar at Clerkenwell Design Week, we learnt so much more about the power of sensory design.

What are the most common senses? 
  • Visual 
  • Sound
  • Smell 
  • Touch 
  • Taste
  • Temperature 
  • Proprioception (gathers information from the rest of our senses and regulates the nervous system)
  • Interoception (understanding the internal senses of the body such as hunger, thirst and pain

Overloading the senses in the workplace can cause issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, headaches and problems with memory and focus, affecting the ability to cope in the office environment. Some employees with heightened senses need space to decompress, hence why office design is so important. Those who are neurodivergent may have heightened sensitivity to material and colour, design elements such as shiny or reflective floors may also trigger anxiety in those who are neurodivergent. Following on from our previous point regarding biophilia, ZoneND explained that humans have a craving to be close to nature, and that it is now a common element to bring the outside in. Studies have shown that fluorescent lighting is causing depression, and that the built environment does not support those who are neurodivergent, as humans we have a need to have exposure to sunlight.

Did you know? 
  • 1 in 7 people are considered neurodiverse
  • 60% of employees are experiencing anxiety
  • 9 in 10 UK adults have experienced high or extreme stress in the past year
  • 49% of UK employees are saying that their employer doesn’t have a plan to spot signs of chronic stress and prevent burnout

We are more aware of neurodiversity than ever before; employers should be consistently fulfilling the needs of every employee. It is important to offer everyone in the office the ability to withdraw when they feel overwhelmed, and adding quieter spaces such as pods or focus rooms can help colleagues that struggle with this issue. New technology such as sound reducing headphones are a great tool for the office, giving people the option to reduce the sound they experience in the open office environment.

Tackling Sound Issues- The World of Office Acoustics 

Noise is a huge irritant in any office environment. Leading on nicely from our last point, it can also trigger a stress response in those who are neurodivergent, some researchers even believe that we are in an era of ‘the broken promise’, meaning that some employers are offering office environments which are not fulfilling the needs of employees like they say they are, issues include lack of focus, collaboration, and privacy areas.

It is reported that 40% of the UK population over 50 suffer from high frequency hearing loss, which poses the question: are we designing workspaces for these people as well as others? The hybrid world of work is struggling due to loss of concentration across the board, there are now more online calls in the office than ever before. Buildings are no longer designed for this shift in working pattern, meaning the office can be a very distracting place for many. In fact, client specific reporting from ARUP suggests that 50% of people cannot focus because of interruptions in the office, 95% cannot reserve a room when they need it. 1 in 4 people feel self-conscious talking in open spaces and we are interrupted an average every 12 minutes on a task, which takes us more than 25 minutes to return to that task, proving that employers now must make the office worth commuting to.

Collaboration increases communication between colleagues, fosters teamwork, and can improve workplace culture. It is said that 1 out of every 3 employees hold back thoughts when on online calls, and that collaboration is reduced in open plan office spaces as workers do not want to disturb others. This presents the discussion of how important different office zones are for a happy workplace.

What is the answer?

Competing with the cosy home will now be a factor most employers are up against. Office acoustic solutions must make sense and add value to the office; however, two things need to be addressed when it comes to sound in the workplace: the effects of noise created, and the amount of noise created. The open office is back but employees have got used to working from home, being as loud of they want and it could be argued that people must re-learn to respect others in an open plan office space once again.

Next generation acoustic technology will be able to enable more activities in the office by reducing distractions whilst increasing vibrancy, AI headphones will be an upcoming trend over the next few years, there are even some that already exist which tune in and respond to individuals’ ears. The ability to personalise this new technology is not quite there yet with AI headphones, however.

Whilst it is important for employers to understand the needs of their workforce and design with various factors in mind, such as noise levels and those who are neurodivergent, it is important to note that it is not possible to eliminate every distraction. Therefore, spaces must be provided within the workspace so that every colleague feels supported and eager to return to the office.

Colour Trends 

As well as a huge focus on the points mentioned above such as office acoustics, biophilia and designing for new generations, we expect to see a shift in colour trends too. In the upcoming years we will be seeing colours move the wellness trend forward from calm paleness to a place of depth with rich colours which also connect to and exist in nature, such as deep blues, silvers, purples and earthy plum shades. Forecasters predict that shades of purple in particular are going to be making a strong comeback as a primary colour. 

Attending the Colour Hive CMF Directions talk at Clerkenwell Design Week affirmed these trend forecasts. As the creators of MIX Magazine, Colour Hive forecast colour trends two years ahead of the current season and haven’t been wrong once in terms of their predictions.

The main trends coming in to focus in the near future will expand on both the current climate anxiety being felt on a global scale, and in contrast, a trend arising from the birth of AI as we live our lives increasingly online.

“Soul” is the trend that aims to bring our interiors back down to our earthen roots. This trend places a darker twist on recent biophilic trends, reaching for inspiration from deep forests and ancient glyphs for design direction. This trend sees sand and stone shades being complimented by earthy orange and deep, desaturated blue tones.

On the opposite side of the scale however, Colour Hive also predict a trend they are referring to as “Hack”. This trend reflects a culture that is being built around the rise of AI, gaming and the metaverse and aims to blur the line further between the virtual world and our own, challenging our perceptions on colour. Here we will see combinations of vibrant blues and pinks, lime greens and bright orange paired with more neutral greys and beige tones.

At Ben Johnson Interiors, we’re always excited to be involved in the planning and design of your commercial refurbishment project.

We have years of in-depth experience to make you feel safe with us, reassured by our wealth of knowledge and past projects for inspiration. We know one size does not fit all! 

If you’d like to chat to us about starting work on your perfect office, get in touch!