Career

Move Over Cubicles: These Are The Workspace Trends Of The Future

The workforce is changing and the digital age well and truly upon us. So does that mean our office spaces are changing too? You betcha. And it’s a great thing.

Traditional office cubicles are a thing of the past, with nine out of 10 offices in Australia already going open plan. And if you’re still sticking it out in a traditional office setting, it’s probably fair to say that your productivity isn’t so crash hot.

The good news is that when work culture changes, our physical working spaces change with it. Here are some emerging trends.

‘Hot desking’ and the multipurpose space

Being stuck in the same space day-in-day-out can put a big dampener on creativity and productivity, so employees are opting to ‘hot desk’ to shake things up a little. Hot desking involves workers being able to choose from a selection of available work sites rather than having an assigned or permanent workspace. Workers say using a hot desk can foster creativity, eliminate major distractions and help them focus on activity-based working.

There’s been an extremely quick change in workspace design, where the bench has replaced cubicles. In other words, offices are now being equipped and fitted-out as multipurpose workspaces.

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Airbnb Portland. Image: Jeremy Bittermann

However one of the biggest criticisms of hot desking is that it can reduce a worker’s ability to express their identity and personality at work. This in turn can decrease job satisfaction, loyalty and engagement in work, and might even contribute to a sense of marginalisation from a bigger working team.

On the up-side, thanks to the Internet, workers are never truly left alone. Regular online communication can help foster that sense of community and attachment in these environments.

Co-working hubs

Co-working hubs are another alternative to traditional office spaces. Defined as workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, independent professionals and other remote workers work, co-working hubs foster independent workers to collaborate via shared and communal settings.

While co-working spaces have been criticised in the past, there has been proven research into why working in a co-working hub can help you thrive, both professionally and personally. Harvard Business Review found that people who use co-working spaces see their work as more meaningful, have more job control, and feel a bigger sense of community.

Bringing the outside in

Fast Company have noted a design trend huge in 2016, slated to continue well into the future: bringing the outdoors in. “Reclaimed wood panel installations, exposed concrete flooring, and incorporating natural flora patterns in fabrics and artwork are all becoming more prominent, along with plant life itself in the form of living walls.”

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Stripe San Francisco headquarters. Image: Officelovin’

The effect of incorporating more natural elements into office design (including natural light) invites a sense of cosiness and calm many offices could definitely benefit from.

Working remotely

Technology has drastically changed how many offices function across the world. Mobile devices and constant access to information are challenging these preconceived notions about work/life balance, ultimately creating a shift in priorities and execution.

There’s a decreased need for face-to-face contact so it’s allowed employees to work from home, which means flexible working hours and no commuting (score!). Working remotely, even just one day a week, is a trend that won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Bike-friendly offices

Walking is for chumps – these days it’s all about having designated bike lanes right in your office block. Take, for example, the brand new Oslo Solar Building in Norway that’s leading the charge for a more two-wheeled friendly environment.

This building will purposely limit the number of car spaces available for its workers, and instead introduce hundreds of spaces for bikes to encourage employees to leave their petrol-guzzling cars at home. While they will supply 10 charging stations for electric cars, there will be no spaces dedicated for conventional cars – at all. That’s pretty impressive.

Standing desks

Whether you think this is will be a passing fad or not, the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle have been well documented and are difficult to ignore. We’ve mentioned before that Dr Michael Mosely (GP, medical journalist, author and host of SBS’s upcoming Trust Me, I’m a Doctor) says studies show “standing burns three times more calories than sitting: if you stood for three hours a day, five days a week, the calories you’d burn are about the equivalent of completing 14 marathons a year.”

This hamster wheel desk doesn’t seem ridiculous all of a sudden.

Puppy-friendly offices

Parting with your pup on a dreary winter morning can be pretty tough – even more so because you know your dog will be lazing about all day when you slog through real, actual work for eight+ hours. But some businesses have caught on to the fact that man’s best friend can be friendly in the office, too.

The ultimate work perk is catching on: The Guardian recently did a profile of the corporate headquarters for Nestlé in the UK, where more than 50 staff have chosen to go through the company’s “pawthorisation” process to allow them to bring their dog to work with them. These canine colleagues will have to be assessed by an independent dog specialist before they’re granted a “passpawt” to stay in the office and hang out in designated dog-friendly rooms.

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Nestlé employee Odette Forbes says, “it’s like having a member of your family in the office […] there’s something about it that feels so right.”

Lead image: 2FRESH Office in Prague. Via Officelovin’