Hottest Trends in Creative Office Design for 2015

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By: NorCal Project Development Services Team

Office design and layout is a key focus for companies as they look to attract, recruit and retain the best talent in an increasingly competitive business environment.

Here are five trends our experts in Project Development Services see as likely to dominate build outs for workplace design over the next 12 months.

Sit/Stand Stations
UntitledSit/stand desk configurations have been in existence for centuries. Winston Churchill, seen here in 1939, used standing and sitting desks at his country home, Chartwell.

Everything old is new again. Ernst Hemingway typed standing up because of a leg wound he received in Italy during WW1. Leonardo Da Vinci, Ben Franklin and fellow Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, novelist Charles Dickens and statesman Winston Churchill are just a few who preferred to write at standing desks. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, standing desks were common, especially in the homes of the well-to-do. More recently, several studies have purported to show the health benefits of standing to work at a desk, rather than sitting for long periods. Based on anecdotal evidence from employees who report having more energy, better posture and fewer back problems when using a standing desk, more companies are offering sit/stand desk configurations so employees can choose the configuration which makes them most comfortable or just mix it up, during the workday

The “Right to Light”
Perimeter offices with their own window lines may be a thing of the past, at least for the time being. A “Right to light” movement is afoot which is removing perimeter offices – and putting open office workstations around the window line. In this floor plan, private offices are moved to the interior of the space and feature floor-to-ceiling glass with sight lines to the windows. The result is that more employees get access to views of the outdoors, whether they are in a private office or not. It’s also a move that qualifies for LEED points and is mandated in some European countries. Also driving this trend is employee contentment. Studies indicate that access to adequate lighting is a key concern for workers. Natural light can also improve employee health, boost energy and increase productivity, according to a 2014 study by researchers at Northwestern University.

Use of Space
In traditional office formats, meetings took place in the company conference room, or individual offices if no conference room existed.   Particularly with technology focused tenants but increasingly in other business sectors, today’s office format is more likely to have much more than just a conference room and, typically, fewer individual offices. Many office designs incorporate different sizes of collaborative space to accommodate anything from gatherings of the entire office to two-person meetings or single-person phone rooms. These spaces are spread throughout the office layout to provide managers and employees with several options for both formal and informal meetings and ‘heads down’ work. Open-plan formats also allow companies to be more efficient with their space usage, abolishing territoriality and accommodating more workers in smaller spaces without creating a claustrophobic vibe.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” and energy efficiency are increasingly important watchwords for a new generation of workers, so employers have almost universally embraced the concept of the sustainable workplace. Between more stringent building codes and the desire for a healthier work environment and LEED recognition, more office tenant improvement work is focused on sustainable building practices to both provide a lower impact work environment as well highlight conservation, differentiate the workplace and promote the company brand.

Fun Space
Studies show that promoting work/life balance is important to a company’s hiring strategy as well as to the overall health of its workforce. Technology companies, in particular, often rely on their workforces to spend long hours at the office, so providing some elements of work/life balance in the workplace is increasingly important. This goes far beyond the foosball or ping-pong table.

Today’s offices are likely to offer these as well as arcade games as standard. Other fun amenities you might see in today’s office formats: fitness room, yoga or pilates studio, spa, karaoke bar, music studio, playground slide, climbing wall, dog run, putting greens and even golf simulators.

WeWork’s game/common room at its SoHo office in New York (Photo: WeWork)

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