3 future office design trends

We've had cubicles, open-plan spaces and now standing desks. The way companies design their offices is constantly changing and evolving, but what design trends are likely to emerge in the near future?

As the Insight website reports, office design is about more than just making the place look nice - it's an important business decision that can affect a company's bottom line. According to a Gensler survey, 90% of the 2,000 businesses questioned said that improved workplace layout and design had a positive impact on overall performance.

With companies such as Google and Facebook recently investing heavily in their headquarters design, let's take a look at some emerging office design trends:

The downside of open plan

For the past couple of decades, global offices have shifted from partitioned sections and rooms to more open-plan layouts. Although this trend looks set to continue - Facebook's new 'West Campus' has the biggest open floor plan in the world - some cracks are beginning to show; while open spaces encourage communication and collaboration, they can hinder productivity, attention spans and creative thought. Future workspaces, then, will give employees a mix of both private and collaborative spaces that they can use flexibly.

Flexibility

In fact, flexibility is one of the hottest buzzwords for the future of work. Offices will become more adaptable as employers and designers move away from one-size-fits all approaches; rather than having a designated desk or workspace, employees can 'reserve' areas depending on their task or project. Furniture itself will become more flexible, too, including height-adjustable desks and multi-purpose seating areas.

Playfulness

The thought of video games and ping-pong tables can unnerve traditionalists, but there's a lot that businesses can learn from the seemingly juvenile nature of tech offices such as Google - which, for example, has slides in its offices. Part of this playfulness trend is due to the rejection of hierarchies that has changed the employer-employee relationship; but it's also been shown to foster stronger company cultures, which in turn drives engagement. A recent Deloitte study found that 87% of businesses cited culture and engagement as their key challenges, so they could use playful design to tackle this.