Written by BSG

2016 Workplace Trends

We list some workplace trends for 2016 including Privacy in the Workplace and Desk Ergonomics

The Work Environment
  • Office Renaissance is imagining the workplace and creating places where employees choose to work-not because they have to but because they want to.
  • People who are the most satisfied with their work environment are also the most engaged.
  • Research shows that 96% of highly engaged workers are able to move freely and change postures throughout the day.
  • Over 98% of the most highly engaged employees say their workplace helps them feel a sense of belonging to their company and its culture, and they also feel they can easily and freely express and share their ideas.
  • People who are in work environments that help them feel energized and supported, versus stressed, are the most highly engaged.
  • Focus on designing the workplace as an ecosystem of interconnected and interdependent places that support the physical, cognitive and emotion needs of people, and give them choice and control over where and how they work.
The Need for Privacy in the Workplace
  • The work setting is all about balance. Achieving the right balance between working in privacy and working together is critical for any organization that wants to achieve innovation and advance.
  • According to Tamara Romeo, founder and CEO of San Diego Office Design, “Smart CEO’s are creating offices where you have social spaces, dining, and fitness experiences all in one environment.”
Open Office Plans and Ceilings
  • Studies show that humans prefer landscapes that give us a clear view of what’s happening around us- open places that offer a broad vantage as part of a group- as well as ready refuge places where we can hide if needed.
  • The design of open-planned offices has overtaken the traditional cubicle due to changing worker demand and the desire to promote collaboration.  70% of American employees work in open plan offices.
  • Open layouts maximize existing space while minimizing costs, particularly in an era when more employees are telecommuting and leaving cubicles empty.
  • Providing more open places for informal meetings is a successful strategy. And Millennials in general have a lower demand for privacy than baby boomers. Millennials will soon make up 50% of the workforce, so employers are increasingly adopting modern design concepts to attract new talent.
  • Offices that offer spaces for solo work, spaces for collaboration and even spaces intended for socializing will yield the most productive results.
  • On the other hand, there has also been a movement of employees against the open office. A review of more than a hundred office-environment studies found that workers in open-office settings experience more uncontrolled disruptions, higher amounts of stress, 62% more sick days than one-occupant layouts and lower levels of concentration and motivation than those in standard offices.
Four Trends in Modern Workplace Design
  • Social Spaces – Incorporating social spaces where employees can gather recreationally can inspire creativity and result in a more connected staff. It’s about creating spaces that people are drawn to whether they are working or not.
  • Lounge Areas – Incorporating a communal area, such as unenclosed lounge space or casual seating groups is extremely popular with Millennials. Ideally incorporating daylight, outdoor views, and outdoor access, these areas have a different vibe than work zones.  The spaces may include tables, chairs, comfortable lounge furniture, coffee service, Wi-Fi, semi-private booths equipped with power for charging devices, writable surfaces and mobile dividers.  The easier it is for employees to move items around, the better.
  • Quiet Spaces – A recent series of studies suggest that an open office plan may alienate and distract some employees. As much as 30% of the workforce is introverted and that by failing to design for them, companies are preventing employees from reaching their potential.  A solution has been designing privacy pods meant for one or two people. These pods offer a small work space where employees can focus on an intensive project without distractions.
  • Sound Masking – Another concept that emerged in response to the open office. Companies are starting to pipe in special background noise to improve the acoustics of the office.  By adding a continuous, low-level ambient sound to an environment (such as white noise), sound masking can help make workplace conversations unintelligible from a short distance, and therefore much easier to ignore.  Implementing white noise can drown out unwanted chatter as well as make employees more comfortable than in an overly quiet environment.
Plants in Office Space
  • Studies show that an office ornamented with plant life can increase employee productivity by 15%. Office landscaping helps the workplace become a more enjoyable, comfortable and profitable place to be. These plants increased employee perceptions of air quality and workplace satisfaction.
Desk Ergonomics
  • Bad Ergonomic design results in decreased productivity.
  • An ideal desk setup produces, “as many 90 degree angles as possible.
  • The top of your computer monitor should be eye level and slightly tilted.
  • Electric mechanisms that have preset options tailored to an individual workers’ body address the potential for injuries stemming from improper adjustments.
  • According to Dr. David Agus, “Five or more hours of sedentary sitting is the health equivalent of smoking a pack and a quarter of cigarettes.” A way to combat this is to stand up every 20 minutes, contract your muscles and move.  In essence, this is hitting the reset button on your body.
The Human Capital Challenge
  • Recruiting, training and compensating employees can cost an organization anywhere from 35-55% of its total costs, whereas real estate costs typically range from 5-15%.
  • The most successful product types today are the ones that bring together the necessary components to make recruitment work. Buildings and markets that are served by public transportation provide Millennials and other workers better access to the office without having to provide their own transportation. Nearby residential and retail provide an overall employee experience, while the right workplace strategy shows employees that the company has an investment in how they work.
  • It is beneficial for organizations to consciously or subconsciously change the layout of their offices to encourage and support greater collaborations among employees. These changes create what is known as an activity based workplace, which enables activity based working and recognizes the needs of all personality preferences.