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Inquiry: What new office design trends will come in 2018?

Article January 23, 2018  |  Text by Lukáš Rozmajzl Text by Lukáš Rozmajzl

Ergonomics-focused offices. A virtual reception and an end to those little plastic cards. A pleasant atmosphere to lure in new employees. Offices where you’ll be happier to work than at home or in a cafe. These are some of the main trends that will be reflected in the designs of new working spaces this year. Ten people from a variety of fields spoke with us about their “office visions for 2018.”

Tomáš Rousek, director of XTEND DESIGN LONDON ↴

I think that one good trend for 2018 is a growing emphasis on office ergonomics. After the industrial revolution, that enslaved people to mechanical machines, we entered the information era, where a large part of the populace must still serve the machines of computation, which still have poor ergonomics. People are made to suffer unneeded physiological and psychological problems, and meanwhile a large part of those could be avoided through proper design. Labor costs are rising even in the Czech Republic, and so companies here are beginning to invest more into people and their health. I hope that this year we’ll see some nice implementations with lots of green, a variety of activity-based workspaces, more deployment of touch devices, and better support for working from home and remotely in general, or part-time.

When I was visiting the LEGO headquarters in London, for example, I liked how all of the tables in the building are essentially “hotdesks”: you can sit in a different place each day depending on your type of work, your team, etc. They did such a good job on their positive interior that people now head to work there gladly and VOLUNTARILY.

Alexandra Tomaskova, Leasing & Asset Director at Skanska Property Czech Republic ↴

In the last few years, workplaces have become tools through which companies recruit employees; interiors are thought through thoroughly to motivate employees to spend time together — or to do the opposite and crawl into a corner if they wish.

In its office design trends, 2018 will definitely tie in to the preceding year, where digitalization and flexibility played the main role. As a part of the flexibility trend, the Activity Based Workspace concept will continue to gain in popularity; we see a growing interest in this concept in our clients and our competitors’ clients. It lets employees cooperate more efficiently, among other things, and improves employers’ space-efficiency and flexibility for the future.

The global trend towards digitalization is manifested in the office environment for example by making it easier to access the building via a virtual reception using just your smartphone. We’re presenting this technology for the first time in the Czech Republic in spring of 2018 in the Visionary project in Prague-Holešovice.

Visionary is situated in Prague 7, one of the most dynamically developing districts in Prague. Source: Skanska

Boris Zupančič, Head Of CEE Business Development Team at Philips Lighting ↴

I expect a continuation of the implementation of Activity Based Workspaces. I also expect a strong trend in the implementation of Indoor Positioning/Navigation and Workspace Analytics, which will go hand-in-hand with the development of Office User mobile applications.

Zora Křičková, managing director, Facilities Management at ČSOB ↴

One current trend is to have the kind of working environment that utilizes all the possibilities that modern technologies offer today, while simultaneously providing employees more possibilities for working efficiently: zones for focused work, prestige-oriented spaces for meeting with clients or suppliers, as well as spaces that support creative thought and communication. We’re currently building a new central office in Prague-Radlice that will tie into the current building to create what we call the ČSOB Campus, which will offer our employees the very possibilities that I mentioned. This will be a flexible workspace that will support cooperation, communication, and innovation. We wish to build up an attractive space for our employees and clients while simultaneously bringing in new talents from outside.

Josef Šachta, Business Development, Sharry Europe ↴

I think that in 2018 we’ll receive new answers to several questions that have long been rising to the top of our minds when it comes to how modern office buildings work. Will we finally see the first buildings that put an end to the little plastic door-opening cards? Will interior navigation systems based e.g. on beacons start to see more use? If so, for what purposes? Will the “hotdesking” trend continue? Will companies abandon the trend of working from home like IBM did?

Jakub Franc, environmental psychologist, Director of UX & Technical Product Management at GoodData ↴

In 2018 we can expect a strengthening of certain trends that we could already see last year. Companies will again become a bit more aware of the importance of workspace quality for how efficiently they function. And this both in terms of optimizing individual employees’ outputs and in terms of supporting cooperation on the individual as well as the inter-organizational level. In light of the continuing overheated job market, companies will make more use of the potential of high-quality and aesthetic office spaces to recruit and retain employees.

The office has become a calling-card for companies during their recruiting; it presents their brand and helps to differentiate them from their labor-market competitors, thereby playing an ever-stronger role in the competition for potential employees. To speak specifically, I most of all expect an increase in the quality of collaboration and relaxation zones, as well as a more personal feeling for offices, supported by the more frequent appearance of striking unconventional design elements.

What is the psychology of your workplace? Read the interview with Jakub Franc.

Filip Muška, Workplace Consultant at CBRE ↴

The current trends will be deepened and strengthened in 2018 with the growth in the importance of architects and the painstaking design of interiors together with the concepts of organization and work itself. Emphasis will also be placed on the quality of materials, and on the staffing and the ergonomics of the workplace. It is expected that the situation in the labor market will not change much, so the work environment will be a significant marketing/HR tool for attracting new and existing employees.

Attempts to be unique or interesting are often outweighed by issues surrounding practicality and usability. Small steps will also shift the aspect of ”healthy” offices and see the penetration of IoT into the office spaces themselves.

Jindra Brousková, consultant, coach, and HR expert ↴

I see the future development of offices as a deep and broad topic; nevertheless, if I had to pick out what’s most important in a nutshell, it would be the topic of gaining and above all retaining key people at companies, without regard to their type or philosophy. Naturally employers’ efforts to create the best possible environment, one that positively stimulates people and motivates them, is related to this.

Key employees’ demands and wishes will be given more attention, which will simultaneously shift to the individual needs of the individual types of work performed—from teamwork to deep, focused activity. The individual offices within a single firm will be as different as universes: we will once again move back from unified open spaces to individualized spaces that reflect employees’ activity types and their requirements, and can even be located in the virtual world...

Zdeněk Brisuda, managing director of the Czech branch of Wiesner-Hager ↴

The truth is that in 2018, there will be a strong focus on the issue of Home vs. Office. Companies are trying harder and harder to bring their employees back into the office. A rift has sprung up between these two concepts, and it’s one of the unanswered questions in office design and corporate culture. In light of the growing demand for flexible working hours, employers have to think hard about what ratio between the home and work environments they’ll be offering their employees. At the same time, however, employers have to “lure employees in” to the office via a suitably-designed workspace—one where people will feel pleasant and comfortable.

A smart design for each employee’s individual work corner will ensure that they have enough privacy, while retaining an affiliation with the company overall. A variety of shared spaces will help to develop this affiliation; in these, people can associate freely, either for discussing work topics or for social conversation and relaxation.

Barbara Cahová, freelance architect ↴

Our society overall (as well as employees with sedentary employment) lacks movement and a sort of healthy place to belong together. No matter whether it’s the office of some start-up or an established company with a hundred employees, there’s always a need to think of the comfort of movement within its spaces and access to each person’s individuality.

We can achieve this e.g. via various levels and traits for seating—office chairs, soft upholstered comfortable seating, and mobile furniture that can be brought together for various debating purposes.

Also e.g. separated-off rooms where people can make calls or let out a scream in privacy. Spaces for small groups’ creative workshops. Everyone must definitely have the feeling that they have a specific place that is theirs alone. Desks with adjustable heights, usable for both standing and sitting work, will likely be more and more popular.

When a client comes in to the spaces of an office where they feel a friendly atmosphere right as they enter and people are smiling from their desks, they can get the feeling that they’ve come to the right place. I think that the trend for 2018, alongside increasing work efficiency, adding sun to spaces, and improving the quality of the workplace as such, will lie in the important aspects of a human focus and of comfortable movement within a given space.