In many ways, 2018 could be as pivotal a year in the design of offices as 1964 -- the year Robert Propst invented the cubicle. Trends that have been set in motion in office design have reached points of inflection while trends in the greater culture are coming to bear in how we configure work spaces. Here are the trends that we expect to come into play in a big way in 2018.
1. Dynamic Spaces
This office trend is a direct response to the short comings of the open office plan. Designers are now building spaces that can be easily changed to suit what the people in the space need. A dynamic space is one that is defined by movable furniture like dividers or temporary walls, and that also has easily moved fixtures inside. That way, it can go from being a semi-private work space to a team room to a party room to a conference room and back with little or no effort.
2. Inclusion and Accessibility
Accessibility has been the law since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The office trend in 2018 is much broader, though. Rather than just focusing on building spaces with hallways that can accommodate wheelchairs, today's focus on building inclusive spaces is much more holistic. Inclusive spaces have furniture with variable heights for different physical work styles. Some have quiet hours to facilitate concentration for those who cannot handle noise. Others offer support for emerging technologies like self-driving wheelchairs.
3. Biophilic Design
The office trend towards biophilic design refers to mixing nature into indoor spaces. Biophilic design goes well beyond a few rented ficus trees. Offices today aren't just green, they're GREEN, with large areas of planters, vine walls, and greater integration with outdoor spaces (when possible). They also use decorations and architectural features that further echo nature and help to bring the feel of the outdoors inside. Biophilic spaces follow WELL and LEED standards and have been linked to improved employee satisfaction, improved health and lower operating costs.
Designers are getting more creative in how they lay out office space. Texturization refers to the large number of elements that can come into play in a 2018-vintage office. Cow hide sofas, shag carpets, concrete walls, and distressed wood tables are all examples of this office trend in action.
While virtual reality headsets first came out in the 1990s and Pokemon Go popularized augmented reality in 2016, 2018 looks to be the first year that these technologies find their way into office spaces. Whether your company virtually tours prospective hires through the workspace through VR or sales teams use virtual video conferencing to more effectively close clients, don't be surprised if this office trend has you and your coworkers sporting decidedly non-trendy goggles in 2018 and beyond.
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