Office Design Trends

Office Design Trends-   Patrick Rakszawski, AIA – AE Works Design Architect and Tiffany Haile, AICP, LEED AP – Manager, Planning + Strategy

The employee experience is at the core of current office design trends.  Architecture supports the experience of employees at all levels in many ways – from wellness to spaces designed to support specific work activities.  Some of the recent items that we’ve incorporated into office design include:

  • Access to natural daylight and views to the exterior are big drivers in renovations.  We are pushing offices to the center of the space and incorporating glass walls so everyone has access to the light.
  • Sit-to-stand desks are popular, although not across the board.  We’ve found that this is more of an individual preference.
  • Additionally, we are seeing a lot of activity based working (ABW) features being integrated into office design, even if the culture doesn’t support ABW function.  This includes a variety of conference room sizes, privacy booths, quiet areas, informal spaces, etc.  We want to create multiple environments to allow people to get work done.
  • Employee wellness is also a big factor in redesign.  We are paying attention to Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) as well as bringing natural elements into the indoors through use of plants, natural colors, or natural materials like wood.
  • We are seeing a push for companies to be more transparent and reduce the clutter.  Visually this translated into clean and smooth lines, plenty of storage, and bright colors.

Also in office remodels today, owners are more likely to engage their staff from various levels in the design process. This engagement enables activity based work (ABW) scenarios to be better understood and developed in the form of needed and useable work spaces and in general underscores transparency.  We have also encountered scenarios where staff involved in the design process then become ambassadors during the move-in process, particularly when a company is making a significant shift in the way space is organized.   This supports ownership of the space and that has a direct impact on culture and employee engagement.

We have also seen more owner focus to integrate culture into design. Designers should always focus on this important aspect and tend to do so, but trends seem to include owners asking for and focusing on making culture visible in the built work environment in both subtle and overt ways beyond pure branding opportunities.

AE Works was featured in the Pittsburgh Business Times’ architecture feature on office design trends. Read more here.