Out with the old, in with the new. It's time to look ahead to the future of workplace design, building on the improvements of the last few years and transforming your office space into the best possible working environment.
Office design has come a long way since the days of Taylorism and cubicle farms. In 2023, a demand for flexibility and incorporating modern values in the workplace is leading design trends.
Whether it's taking into account hybrid working or employee wellbeing, we're seeing innovation across the board in the way we curate our workspaces. These are the leading workplace design trends expected to rise to the top in 2023.
Why is workplace design important?
Before we dive into the ins-and-outs of design trends for 2023, we should first take a look at why it matters.
Your workplace represents your business. The ideals, values and culture of your company are all reflected in the office design. How you choose to present the heart of your business influences everything from employee morale and productivity to attracting new talent.
These are just a few areas in the business where workplace design can hold sway.
An outdated office space isn't going to win over any burgeoning young talent. Keeping up to date with workplace design trends and creating a space that reflects your business's culture and progressive nature is a fantastic way to make a great first impression.
A modern, trendy office space is an excellent way to attract talent, but it's also essential for retaining it. Employees working in a dour environment that shows little care for their wellbeing are likely to have poorer mental health and feel undervalued.
Employee satisfaction is higher in a workspace that considers their needs, with a workplace layout that is equipped to handle different modes of working.
Employee morale itself is instrumental in maintaining a productive working environment, but there are several other elements of workplace design that have an impact.
From colour psychology to space utilisation, facilities managers have to make choices that will influence productivity in the workforce.
Using the available space to suit all types of people and working styles is difficult, but rewarding. Achieving the right balance between collaborative and focused spaces, dedicating resources to wellbeing, even choosing the right colour palette; all benefit the workforce, and therefore productivity levels, hugely.
A cultural shift
We've seen a substantial shift in the considerations of office design in the last few years. Momentum towards flexible working, wellbeing and psychological needs increased massively during the pandemic.
Companies have vastly different priorities in the workplace now compared to even five years ago. For instance, a business that prioritises wellbeing and sustainability, which many now claim, will have a workplace design built around those values.
Nine office design trends for 2023
Investing in 'trends' may seem like an exercise in futility. By their very nature, trends should be changeable; susceptible to shifts in public opinion and new evidence. Fortunately, the following workplace design trends are largely rooted in cultural changes – making them the first steps towards the future of work.
These are a handful of the office design trends that will define workplaces in 2023.
Sustainability has been on the minds of FMs for years. But it's never had a broader definition or as much influence as it does now. This is only likely to grow, not diminish, as younger generations begin to dominate the workforce.
The next generation will have greater expectations of their workplace being carbon net zero, so designing spaces with this in mind is crucial. Of course, more goes into creating sustainable environments than just adding a few recycling bins. Whether you're looking at a whole new construction, a simple refurbishment, or looking to improve the existing space, there are several net zero initiatives your business can undertake.
Construction is a notoriously carbon-heavy industry, so ensuring you work with sustainable partners and adhere to the values of a circular economy is vital in creating a sustainable environment. There are certifications you can look out for, like BREEAM, Cradle to Cradle and LEED to analyse the sustainability credentials of any products in construction, ensuring you are using low emission materials from the ground up.
Operational carbon is the emissions produced by a building in use; this is where everything from recycling to energy usage comes into play.
More companies are taking the initiative to reduce their operational carbon, whether it's by installing solar panels, using e-vehicles or improving the building's insulation.
A simple change you can make to improve the sustainability of your workplace is installing a Zip HydroTap. Single-use plastic bottles are a huge and unnecessary polluter, and office workers are a particularly guilty contributor.
Removing the need for plastic bottles at all, by introducing a high-filtration water system into the office, like the Zip HydroTap, will take you one step closer to achieving a completely sustainable design. Introducing readily available pure tasting, chilled water – with a higher filtration level than its bottled counterpart – to the workplace encourages employees to change their unsustainable habits and cut plastic waste.
A versatile layout
Versatility is everything in modern office design. It's a change that FMs will find difficult to avoid, as the demands of a hybrid workforce and accommodating all employee needs requires nothing less than complete versatility.
With the way we work being forced to transform dramatically in the past few years – and a huge contingent of employees still choosing to work remotely – workplace trends have been shifting to accommodate that change.
It would seem that the future of work will be a mixture of remote work and in-office working. As we adopt work models that blend the traditional with the new, the office layout will inevitably change. Hybrid working demands flexibility from a workplace, with remote workers creating the need for rooms dedicated to video calls, while also requiring a variety of working areas – from collaborative to focused – for when they are in the office.
Understanding how different spaces can be best used to enhance employee engagement, productivity and wellbeing is an interesting challenge for FMs.
Meeting rooms and collaborative spaces
Putting the needs of remote employees aside for a moment, encouraging collaboration in-person is still an important consideration.
Traditional meeting rooms still have their place, but shouldn't be relied upon as the sole area for collaboration in the office.
Breakout spaces should sit alongside conference rooms, huddle rooms and whatever else workplace trends demand to encourage employees to communicate. Having more informal areas to discuss work and have impromptu ideation sessions can help boost productivity.
Rise of the Zoom booth
By now, we all know the difficulties of trying to conduct a video call in a busy office. When people on both ends of the call struggle to hear each other because of background noise – whether it's an external or internal call – it can be immensely frustrating.
Video calls and meetings grew in popularity due to the pandemic, but are here to stay. Hybrid work and external meetings continue to drive demand; improvements to technology have made conducting work this way a viable option, and one that many employees increasingly rely upon.
Small spaces built for the purpose of hosting Zoom calls will become a mainstay in 2023, to accommodate the apparent shift to remote working. While collaborative, open plan spaces are still key to workplace design, we can acknowledge the need for spaces that are designed to adapt to remote working, new technology and virtual collaboration. Sound and light control in these spaces is key!
Flexible desk arrangements
Hot desking is nothing new, but the need to promote movement among office employees hasn't changed in 2023.
For many, a significant portion of their working lives is spent sitting down. This can cause all kinds of health issues long-term, and is generally detrimental to the health and wellbeing of employees. An easy solution is to provide employees with standing desks, giving them the option to switch between standing and sitting throughout the day.
Flexible desk arrangements also encourage communication, helping build relationships and promoting collaboration.
Employee health and wellbeing are the driving force behind many workplace trends in 2023. Inclusive workspaces, that take into account the needs of all employees, are less of a workplace design trend and more of a necessity as awareness grows.
FMs should be looking to create calming spaces and quiet working zones. These areas will help employees with neurodivergence be comfortable at work. Breakout spaces that give employees the chance to take a break when they need it also help to make a workspace inclusive.
Focused work areas
Reinforcing the need for flexibility in the modern workplace, the collaborative workspaces that are so valued in progressive offices must be balanced with areas dedicated to focused work.
Providing a dedicated space for solo work that requires intense concentration and allowing employees to choose where they work is essential for boosting productivity. Open plan offices are still the most popular model, but there are times when you need a little peace and quiet at work!
From breakout areas to yoga spaces, there are several ways to improve staff wellbeing through workplace design.
Making the effort to create areas that are purely meant to improve the working lives of employees will improve general morale, and will help people feel valued.
Changes to improve wellbeing don't have to be huge: introducing a Zip HydroTap, which, as previously mentioned, has a superior taste to even bottled water, encourages employees to stay hydrated. Good hydration has been linked to reducing risk of depression and anxiety, as well as improving productivity levels and general mental function.
Fluorescent lighting has been the go-to practical lighting solution in offices for decades, but with attention drawn to the negative effects it has on employee wellbeing, this is beginning to change.
Natural light helps our bodies to produce Vitamin D, improves our focus and sleep patterns, and generally makes us happier.
Offices flooded with natural light will have a happier and more productive workforce than offices relying solely on fluorescent or led lighting. Larger windows and glass walls will become more of a priority in office environments moving forward.
The pandemic has impacted the working landscape immeasurably. From popularising hybrid work to movements like quiet quitting, the influence of repeated lockdowns is still difficult to quantify.
A less discussed change brought about by the pandemic is a greater focus on air quality. Keeping employees safe from pathogens in the air is now a priority, and companies can protect workers by using an advanced air filtration system.
Not all design trends are based on layout and technology! These are the more visual-based design trends to look out for in 2023.
Industrial meets natural
Minimalistic design is still popular in many workplaces; unsurprisingly, as a cluttered space can create stress and harm our ability to focus. The industrialised look, where exposed brick, wood and metals are typically the primary materials used in a room, is often the style of choice in minimalist workplaces.
It's practical, modern and in-style; industrial-chic offices aren't going away any time soon. But the importance of bringing the natural world into the office is leading towards a combination of the peeled-back, modern industrial look with more natural elements.
Biophilic walls, house plants and glass walls that allow natural light to flood through are all additions that work to improve quality of life for employees. This change does more than make the office look good – it helps people working there to feel good as well.
Bright colours and artwork
Neutral tones have dominated the office colour palette for years, and they have ruled supreme for a reason. These colours work to create a calming environment that helps people stay focused and reduces stress. Brighter colours had previously fallen out of fashion, but are starting to creep back into office design again.
Colour psychology has been written about extensively – just as neutral tones are calming, bright colours can be energising and foster creativity. A pop of colour, particularly in creative or collaborative spaces, can have a surprising influence over brain function.
These colours should be used sparingly in an office, however, as too many bright colours can be distracting and harm productivity. It's worth remembering that not all people will feel the same way about every workplace design trend – if you're planning on painting an entire room neon yellow, it might be worth asking the staff first!
A great way to get some more colour and inspiration into a space is through art. Placing art on the walls of the office makes your office trendier, and a more pleasant place to work.
Make your office space 2023-ready
By applying the workplace trends listed here that best suit your working environment, you will be getting the most out of your office space, and ensuring you have a happier workforce.
While these trends may evolve in future, the core ethos behind them will remain the same. These design changes are an investment in the future of your company, putting you on the front foot when it comes to recruitment, retention and productivity.
Some of the required changes may be a complete overhaul, but others are simple. No modern office is complete without an advanced water filtration system: find out more about the benefits of introducing a Zip HydroTap to your office today.