Happy new year! Is it still acceptable to say that 3 weeks into the new year? At what point does the new year become the old year? These are the burning questions that keep me awake at night.

Anyway, with a new year comes new trends. Here are a few 2018 workplace trends:

Most employers will encourage group-oriented work and will design offices to facilitate employee interaction. According to a Knoll Workplace Research study, employees are estimated to spend 40% of their day completing group work, with groups of 5 to 8 people the most common reported size. With that, studies have found that group workers are more loyal, productive, creative, and satisfied than those who work by themselves.

Studies have also found that coworker relationships promote productivity and performance; in fact, 72% of employees who have a work best friend are more satisfied with their job than those without. Both Google and Skype offices have designs that are open to a lot of group seating and collaboration rooms. Their designs encourage employee interaction and collaboration.

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You may have noticed that the Skype workspace in Palo Alto pictured right seems to be quite casual. That leads us to our next 2018 trend, residential and hospitality influences. A lot of companies are beginning to embrace a more laid back environment with less strict dress codes and open workspaces. To accomplish that open, relaxed environment, companies are including design elements from non-office spaces. Things like hand-crafted tables, artisan rugs, and relaxed seating are now being used in commercial spaces.

Along with a relaxed environment, employers also want a relaxed employee. Many companies are starting to incorporate wellness into their workspaces this year. For example, on a list of “13 Tech Companies That Offer Cool Work Perks,” Forbes listed Twitter. The social media platform offers unlimited time off, onsite acupuncture, meditation classes, gym membership reimbursement, and plenty of other perks.  

How do companies compete with that?! While most can’t offer perks like Twitter’s, many companies are beginning to prioritize employee well-being with better HR support. A San Diego tech company, MediKeeper, found that en a company invests in individual wellness, not only does employee stress decrease but company productivity increases leading to a better company culture.

Last but not least, companies are starting to bring more than just plastic plants into the workplace. Biophilic Design is the idea that humans have an inherent desire to feel connected to nature. When a workplace incorporates natural elements, whether it be natural colors, live plants, or decorative wood elements, it increases employee creativity and productivity, and as an added bonus live plants improve overall air quality. What’s not to love about this trend?

As trends come and go I’m interested to see how the events of 2018 will influence the future of workplace culture and design.
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By: Erin Ferguson