Top 10 Office Design Trends for 2018


The evolution in the way we work is being driven by generational changes, disruptive startups and psychology. There's so much going on, but how do we know what to focus on in 2018?

From flexible working and agile workspaces to employee wellbeing and employee experience, things are changing fast. Likewise, the blurred lines between work and personal life, nature’s influence on creativity and the use of the office to bolster brand awareness. It’s all making things difficult for executives and HR leaders, and shaking things up for legacy businesses. To help you get ahead, here are our Top 10 Office Trends for 2018.

1. A flexible break from tradition

More and more organisations will break from the traditional 9-5, office based model for some employees to offer more choice and control. Co-working, hot-desking and flexible working are all on the rise, fueled by disruptive startups, a burgeoning gig economy and demands from generations Y (millennials) and, now, Z. Despite some high-profile U-turns on remote working policy, the rewards in wellbeing, personal productivity, engagement and employee experience are being applauded.

2.Mixed-use, zoning and fewer desks

As a result, more offices will become mixed-use workspaces, with fewer permanent desks, offering staff different ways, places and times to work. We’ll see more zoning, we'll hear more about Activity Based Working and agile workplaces to cater for differing personalities, working styles and schedules. For example, the open-plan office design works for some people and certain activities, but when focus and concentration is needed, 2018 will see offices with secluded cabins, pods, booths and quiet areas for better acoustics and more privacy. 

3. Office 'hoteling'

The job of co-ordinating all these flexible working options has created another trend in its own right. With hoteling, workers temporarily reserve a desk – a cubicle, co-working space, hot-desk, wherever. This means fewer workers (like remote staff or those on flexitime) are assigned to the same desk every day. This allows businesses to make cost savings through a reduction of desk numbers and office footprints and the more efficient management of available space. It also encourages more collaboration, creativity and ‘collisions’ (see trend 8).

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4. Wellbeing climbs the agenda

Businesses will better understand the links between wellbeing and productivity. More and more organisations are implementing wellbeing strategies, but they don't yet go far enough. There’s more to it than most organisations understand (or can cater for), including emerging areas like financial wellbeing. Yet more compelling evidence shows how wellbeing impacts on individual and organisational productivity, and businesses will need to make changes to policies and the work environments to improve it. 

5. All change for HR, facilities and IT

All these changes mean that workplace design, employee wellbeing and work productivity systems are all becoming part of the mandate for HR as ‘employee experience’ takes centre stage. For facilities managers, this means becoming more IT-savvy, and fast, as ubiquitous Wi-Fi, data collection and integrated tech becomes more widespread. IT departments, meanwhile, may become outsourced (or disappear altogether) as more digital tech becomes intuitive and user friendly.

6. ‘Employee experience’ ain’t no passing trend

It’s jargonistic, but this trend gets stronger every year. Employee experience is tied inextricably to employee engagement, customer satisfaction, company performance and profitability. It’s central to every single human capital discussion today and influences everything from office design to company culture. We’ll be hearing more about this.  

7. Blurred lines – hospitality, leisure and residential

More and more businesses are finding ways to show staff that they care about their life outside of work. And today’s workforce is demanding more benefits and amenities which blur lines between work, play and home — from home comforts like showers to bars and cafes; even on-site accommodation for live-in workers. Increases in flexible working are driven by demands for home working, co-working and remote working (much of which originated in the startup culture). And enhanced health benefits (like discounted gym membership) help organisations show they understand that their employees have a life outside of the office.

8. More collaboration, collisions and creativity

We’re realising that to get the best out of entire workforces, employees need to share information and ideas (in some sectors), as well as have more human interactions. Forward-thinking organisations are creating office environments which engineer casual ‘collisions’ to aid creativity and collaborations, from cafes to informal areas and workspace flow designs. This trend marks a departure from the traditional model where members of siloed teams never mix with people from other departments, apart from at the Christmas party.

9. Brand awareness in design

A trend high on the employee engagement agenda is using office space to articulate company values, personality and vision — but this goes beyond printing company values on the wall. People choose to work for businesses which share their values, and reinforcing them at every possible opportunity is key to helping staff feel more involved, engaged and motivated. But, crucially, the brand must reflect the culture if it is to remain authentic.

10. Bringing the outside in

Natural light, plants and better office outlooks will be higher on the priority list for many organisations, thanks to more awareness about biophilic design(incorporating nature like plants and natural light). Studies show it boosts productivity, creativity and overall wellbeing. Yet half of the UK workforce works in offices with no natural light or greenery. It needn’t be a 10-foot-square living wall, but more plantlife, natural light and better outlooks will help. 

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