Last year, Ambius research revealed that on average British workers spend more time per a day at their desk or workstation (6.8 hours) than they do in bed (6.4 hours). These figures reinforce the importance of making sure offices are happy, agile and comfortable places to work.
Contemporary workplaces need to be designed with the needs of the modern worker in mind. Here, we discuss the office interior design trends likely to make their mark in 2019, and which are worth considering in order to get the most out of your workforce.
It’s all about wellbeing
The main focus for 2019 will be wellbeing in the workplace and human-centric design. Biophilia – the theory that humans have an innate need to connect with nature and the natural environment – really took off in 2018, changing the way we work and encouraging more natural elements in interior design. We expect that to continue.
The scientific evidence supporting the positive influence of biophilic design on the health and wellbeing of building occupants is substantial and growing. In an office environment, it is shown to improve productivity, wellness and reduce sick days.
Plants form a key part of this. And with the more regimented style of planting starting to lose its appeal, we’re seeing designers bring in more natural and unique forms of foliage, colour and texture to connect an office space with the outside world. We anticipate that more wood, stone, green walls and clay will make their way into workspaces as part of this trend.
The traditional linear structure of offices has been challenged over the last few years with ‘break out spaces’ and ‘collaboration areas’ becoming an office necessity, especially as activity-based working becomes increasingly important. However, in a bid to keep wellbeing top of the agenda, we will see an increase in ‘recuperation spaces’ in open plan offices; places where people can spend some quiet, personal time away from the hustle and bustle.
And with work spaces becoming more open, screens or dividers will be used to break up expansive areas and offer privacy. For those looking to create a more natural environment, high-level planting can be a good option.
Where once, the priority of office technology was to make us work as quickly and efficiently as possible, we’re now seeing technology used to promote wellness in the workplace. One example of this is biodynamic, circadian lighting – an interior lighting management system designed to be in tune with natural light cycles. With these systems, the quality and brightness changes throughout the day, making the contrast between indoors and outdoors less severe. I anticipate we’ll see lots of offices opt for this in 2019 and beyond.
Soundscaping is another emerging technology shaping the evolution of office design, which manages the acoustics of an open-planned space. Designed by companies like Plantronics, their Habitat Soundscaping systems use technology to dynamically adapt to the working environment, helping to create the perfect balance between wellness and productivity, while eliminating any distracting noise.
Colour me happy
The Pantone Colour Institute recently announced its 2019 ‘Colour of the Year’ as ‘Living Coral’ – chosen for its “animating and life-affirming” hue which “energises and enlivens with a softer edge”.
Not only does coral pink represent optimism, it’s a colour we often find in our natural surroundings through things like flowers and sunsets. For office interior designers who want to stay on trend, it’s likely we’ll see this colour filter through into fabrics, accessories and containers around the workplace. Dulux has also named its paint colour of the year as Spiced Honey – a similarly warm tone, but with more natural qualities. Bringing both these colours together with green, leafy plants, can create a palette which both inspires and offers calm for employees.
We know that plants can reduce stress and anxiety, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Some plants have air-purifying capabilities, especially indoors where the air is often more polluted than outside. Green walls and large-leaved foliage plants are the most effective.
Another trend we’ll see in 2019 is the return of big-leafed plants, similar to those we used to see 20 years ago. While robust and easy to look after, these plants also help create a more natural sense of calm in the office, compared to more spikey ones like cacti or succulents.
Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation, Ambius