The day of the cubicle is all but over as companies, large and small, start to think holistically and ergonomically in order to get the most out of their office spaces and their employees.
We’ll see some major themes developing and consolidating in 2017, so here are six of the bigger ones.
Losing the wires
As we use more and more devices in our work lives, we see more and more wires, and now many offices have a rats’ nest of them under every desk, getting in the way, tripping people up and looking awful. Open plan desks and offices can look a real mess and this affects clarity of thought in the workforce, as well as presenting them with an obstacle course every time they want to find a notebook or charge their mobiles. Office furniture is starting to incorporate design solutions to minimise this problem, as is the widespread adoption of wireless charging. Expect to see more furniture with docking stations and wireless charging pads. At last!
Greening up the indoors
Maybe it’s a sign of the blurring between work and home, or maybe we’re just realising that offices could be more natural. Whatever it is, we can expect to see more real plants, reclaimed wood and images of the outside, natural world in our workplaces from now on. OK, no-one’s saying that an office space in City of London has to become a rainforest, but a few plants can’t hurt, and they clean the air.
We’re seeing the death of the cubicle, but also of its replacement – the fixed, person-assigned bench. Although executive meeting rooms are clinging to their status symbols still, other meeting rooms and work spaces are adopting a more fluid style. There are oval or round tables and desks for informal meetings, as well as for lone work. There’s also a move towards sit-to-stand seats so people can choose their posture for work and meetings.
Dedicated lounging zones
A side-effect of the growing freedom from wires is that people can work wherever they want, so there’ll be spaces for lying down, reclining or huddling together to get the job done. Most of the lounging furniture will have the wireless charging pads and docks of their more formal cousins, too.
Different zones will have different colours – yellow for creativity, green for relaxing, blue for formal meetings, and so on. These colours could be on the floor, on the walls, or incorporated into the furniture or lighting; wherever they are, at long last we know for certain that those colours affect our moods and productivity.
This is something of a paradigm shift. For decades there’s been a clear division between departments and management levels. The head guys get the big rectangular tables and the underlings get their little desks. This is all changing with the re-introduction of what is, in effect, the round table. Everyone is equal here, no-one sits at the head. It’s all about collaboration, not opposition, and these big communal tables are a striking symbol of this.