Office of the Future

Don’t wait to design a better performing workplace. With the cubicle farm a thing of the past, all the resources you need are available here and now.

The cubicle farm has been replaced by workstations with low partitions. Closed offices are becoming more scarce. And some forward-thinking companies have done away with assigned seating all together.

There are many new ways to design the workplace. One size does not fit all corporate cultures—but some trends are becoming mainstream and are likely to become widely adopted. The Office of the Future is much closer than you think.

Keep an eye on furniture manufacturer Teknion, whose Zones collection designed by PearsonLloyd includes easily movable tables, desks, white boards and partitions that let employees reconfigure their own space throughout the work day.

Another disruptor is Knoll, which has partnered with iconic architect David Rockwell to introduce Rockwell Unscripted, a groundbreaking collection that draws from Rockwell’s innovations in hospitality and theater design.

Unscripted is described by Knoll as “a collection of improvisational elements that cultivate community and creativity (at work).” Intended to encourage spontaneity, Unscripted also lets the employees using the furniture “complete the story” every day. One of the elements is bleacher-style seating which workplace designers say is much in demand.

Other trends to watch

  • Active design. “Sitting is the new smoking,” but seating at a variety of heights—and sit-stand desks—can help get employees up and moving more frequently and also encourage a healthier lifestyle.
  • Biophilic design. Living walls bring live greenery into the office. Also, Mohawk Group has introduced the Lichen Collection of carpets inspired by multi-hued, multi-textured lichens and their regenerative role in the ecosystem. The Lichen collection was designed by Jason F. McLennan, the founder of the Living Building Challenge, a rigorous new green building standard.
  • Blurring boundaries between work and play—and designing comfortable workplaces that truly resemble residential settings more than work with sofas, poufs, rocking chairs.
  • Smaller meeting rooms and more of them. Meeting rooms now resemble residential living rooms.
  • Residential quality micro tables for “desking” anywhere; plus, electricity built directly into lounge-like furniture.
  • Incorporating play areas inspired by the “maker” movement that encourage “brain breaks” to recharge creativity and problem solving
  • Creating an authentic (and branded) environment using unexpected textures and finishes from velvet to plywood.
  • Paying greater attention to acoustics in open areas by providing private pods to make a phone call or host a conference call. Acoustics are also being addressed by decorative wall art with sound absorption that is adhered to walls or suspended from the ceiling.