October 14, 2020
Who knew cubicles could have… dare we say it, style?
Every year ushers in a new wave of design and style changes. But this year—as we’re all painstakingly aware—is relentlessly different. It changed the way we communicate, work, socialize, all the way down to how we dress for the workday (shoes optional).
But we’re looking to the future and finding that this year—with all of it’s curveballs—is giving us some trends that will shape, color and connect us to our offices. And believe it or not, the outlook is bright!
Check out these office design and technology trends for 2020 and 2021 to make sure you’re “on trend” for the coming season.
The last few years has shown us that open office doesn’t always mean enhanced collaboration. In fact, it may mean confusing social dynamics and constant distractions.
Believe it or not, the cube is coming back, but with a brand new look.
Office trend site, BureauOne says, “ Businesses are exploring the idea of the ‘privacy pod’ – a name that sounds futuristic, and that very well might be. Unlike the soulless image of cubicles we’re familiar with, these new and improved privacy pods are designed to block distractions and offer your employees sound-proof and distraction-free comfort to focus on their work.”
Other trend-spotters are highlighting reimagined cubicles with a more open, accessible feel while still reducing noise, providing safety barriers, and creating a greater level of privacy.
Architecture firm Kinzo has developed colorful and modular acrylic shields (seen above).
Screen designer Spacestor’s maximized on an open feel with their window-like dividers.
Furniture design company, Group Lacasse, offers glass and light wood divided, but interlocking cubes that serve as both traditional and standing-desks and balance personal space with a more community feel.
As far as shared spaces and lounge spots go, we’re also seeing a limitation to products that invite large groups together. Design firm Hawthorne released a furniture series of modular sofas and booths to keep collaboration possible but limited to very few people at a time in a small space.
Color, texture and shape have been almost non-existent in the workplace for the last several years, but companies are now aiming for a more “homey,” welcoming and inspiring look and feel for their space.
Grey is out, bold is in. Form doesn’t necessarily follow function when it comes to tables, chairs and desk lamps now. We’re seeing bright color tones, lots of texture and eye-catching accent pieces to bring a little life to the office.
According to BureauOne, “The studies on this design trend show that when done well, the combination of bolder styles of furniture help maintain higher levels of focus and interest by curbing feelings of boredom and fatigue.”
Another place we’re seeing this trend comes from the all-powerful “color of the year.” If you’ve never heard of this, it’s basically a color tone chosen by designers that will be popular or defining for the year. In this case, 2020 is showcasing soft shades of pink, blush and rose—fitting perhaps for a very odd year—as well as dark blue and muted greens.
In tech, we’re looking to see more contactless ways to interact with a space.
Consider it the new ‘minimalism’. One notable example is an office designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the Bee’Ah headquarters in the UAE, where ‘contactless pathways’ ensure that doorways are enabled with motion sensors and facial recognition and lifts can be summoned via smartphone.
Another almost invisible measure to improve the interaction with the office space will come for offices old and new by upgrading to HEPA filters and improving HVAC maintenance. As we’re discovering that COVID and all sorts of bacteria are spread through continuous air circulation, upgrading these systems will allow employees to, literally, breathe easier.
Lastly, and maybe most futuristic, could be the advent of VR technology to allow for more “real” human interaction while employees are widespread remotely.
A story from CNBC cites, “A PwC report last year predicted that nearly 23.5 million jobs worldwide would be using AR and VR by 2030 for training, work meetings or to provide better customer service.”
Change is here and it’s bringing back some old along with a striking amount of new.
As you think about the future of your workspace, consider these trends toward personal space, fun over function, and making interaction with technology just a little more seamless within the environment.