In 2023, demanding that employees come into the office to work has shown to be ineffective at best. Employees miss the social and collaborative opportunities of the office, but constricting floor plans, isolating cubicles, and lackluster common spaces do little to ensure that they’ll find the connection they crave within the four walls of their company’s office.
In response, businesses are adopting thoughtful strategies that include updated designs to accommodate new work needs and rhythms, foster a robust hybrid company culture, and improve worker well-being — while boosting productivity.
Leaders are quickly learning that spaces transform our behavior and how we engage with our work and coworkers. Companies who want to attract top talent, retain their employees, improve overall well-being, and tap into the benefits of social productivity are re-thinking ‘cube design’ and creating culture spaces.
“Workplace design and culture have changed more in the last three years than they have in the last three decades — and we don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.” -Truspace Expert
These shifts in workplace strategy have led to office design trends for 2024 that are a combination of emergence — innovative solutions that are new to office design — and evolution — elements of hybrid work that employees have shown interest in for years. We’ve positioned every project we’ve designed this year to keep our clients on the cutting edge, and we’re excited to share with you the developments we anticipate heading into the new year.
Trends like feel-good office design and sustainability reveal cultural shifts towards better self-care and well-being. Others, such as adaptive workplace layouts, small office fit-outs, and the hotelification of office spaces, exemplify developments in corporate values that reflect post-pandemic changes.
Adaptive Workplace Layouts
As offices begin to look less like the offices of the past, they’re taking notes from neighborhoods, homes, and coffee shops to become places where people naturally gather to exchange resources and ideas. This means breaking down static walls and moving away from rigidly designed spaces that can only accommodate one form of work or work-related activity.
Open layouts with flexible and modular options, such as the DIRTT wall systems we used for Procor’s office, hot desks, standing desks, and breakout zones, allow employees to engage with their space to make it work for them.
Inviting elements in offices such as the one we designed with Skip the Dishes shows the power of design to bring people together in common areas that are multi-functional. Instead of separate rooms for team meetings, events, and social gatherings, adaptive workplace layouts do it all.
This workplace design trend fosters those chance encounters that lead to inspiration and innovation that employees miss out on during virtual work. They optimize face-to-face interactions by providing space for free movement, abundant body-language observation, and valuable side-by-side learning and mentoring for employee development.
Small Office Fit-Outs
As many businesses downsize their physical offices, efficiency is of the essence. Extreme attention to detail is emerging as the new norm since these smaller workplaces need just as much if not more, strategy up front to ensure a balance between form and function. In a well-planned small office fit-out, we expect increased active and ergonomic furniture, natural lighting features, plants and natural materials, and moveable partitions.
Elements such as color, structure, and texture also play a vital role in design optimization. Making a small office feel spacious was the aim of our work in Procor’s new office.
Harvard Business Review even cited a classic MIT study that revealed that the physical space between people decreased communication, which could indicate the benefit of more intimate offices. Regular connection and conversation start to fall when people are about half a football field apart.
Feel-Good Office Design
Mental health and well-being have drawn increasing attention as burnout skyrockets in the workplace. More than half of managers now feel burned out, and in the last year, 70% of C-suite executives considered leaving their jobs for one that would better support their mental health. Companies are responding by building office spaces that prioritize health-focused amenities and feel-good design elements. Fitness centers, drop-in daycares, game rooms, and multi-functional dining halls are 2024 emerging trends in feel-good office design.
Besides keeping employees working steadily and with more predictable productivity, this office design trend can significantly boost employee morale and motivation. Employees want to come to the office when the perks of the space outweigh the perks of staying home. Player One is a Truspace client that needed to blend connection with privacy in their office while remaining true to its entertainment roots. A space infused with social inspiration that gave employees the space to connect and create was just the ticket.
Workhaus, another Truspace client, found that feel-good elements were vital to bringing their employees together in a community-oriented environment. Social instead of task-based accommodations
With the WELL Building Standard gaining traction into 2024 and beyond, a greener approach to design is taking on a whole new meaning. A few green practices like recycling and going paperless just aren’t enough. Every aspect of new office layouts needs to become eco-friendly to keep up with the holistic criteria WELL brings to the forefront of office sustainability. Not only do these efforts contribute to a healthier planet, but they also integrate a company’s values directly into the everyday experience of their workplace.
Smart lighting and HVAC systems, like the ones we used in Procor’s office, reduce a company’s carbon footprint while improving the quality of the work environment for employees. The modular DIRTT wall system mentioned previously helps the environment by reducing waste, as walls can be reused and reconfigured over time.
We anticipate a further rise in the use of upcycled furniture, building materials with higher percentages of recycled content, and LED lighting in 2024.
Hotelification of Offices
Step into your favorite hotel, and you’ll get that ‘home away from home feeling.’ The hotelification of the office aims to produce a similar feeling of comfort, luxury, and indulgent aesthetics in the workplace. Hotel-like accommodations we’re seeing emerge as office trends for 2024 include nap pods, standing desks with built-in exercise equipment, and outdoor spaces with lounge chairs. The predominant focus is enhancing the workplace with more human-centric features.
Even on a tight budget, we can transform office spaces with high-end elements like the ones we integrated into our client, Workhaus’s, new Calgary location.
Key Considerations and Challenges when Planning an Office Layout
These emerging and evolving trends present unique challenges regarding office layouts. A few key considerations have helped us guide our clients as we adapt our design approach to suit this new era.
We are building workplace culture intentionally.
These 2024 office design trends all foster connection. Revisiting your values with your staff, engaging them in developing your mission and vision, and incorporating their feedback into your workplace culture and design is critical.
We are finding the optimal balance between remote and on-site work.
Every design process should begin with a deep understanding of your employees' needs to reach peak performance. Nearly all office employees had an opportunity to work from home during the pandemic and will know what work they do best in the quiet of their home and what kinds of activities they need the office to accommodate. Gathering this information can maximize productivity and get you the most impact for every dollar spent on design.
We are creating fair and inclusive work environments.
Hybrid work can divide employees and make it more difficult for new team members to integrate into their work culture. In addition to building workspaces that encourage inclusivity, we recommend keeping up with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts relevant to hybrid work.
We are optimizing existing spaces to accommodate the evolving needs of the workforce.
The best way to maximize your design budget is to leverage existing spaces. We always look for opportunities to upgrade spaces with flexible, adaptable, and modular elements. Working with an expert consultant or design-to-build firm to navigate these challenges will save you time, keep you on budget, and keep you future-ready.
When people come to work, there’s more happening than tasks being completed and goals being achieved. Companies ready to open their minds — and their spaces — to better protect the health of their employees' health, the planet's health, and the long-term productivity of a hybrid workforce will be integrating these 2024 office design trends into their spaces.
Ready to transform your space? Meet with a Truspace design consultant for a free assessment today.