All About YOU — Trends That Defined the Workplace in 2019

Elizabeth Faulkner

Good news for us: 2019 was the year of the employee. Organizations focused on employees and their desires as they planned their office spaces, where the measure of success had a direct correlation to employees’ happiness. Here are some of the top workplace transformation trends from 2019.

Experience-Centric Designs

Back in the day, there was very little to do during the workday except, well, work. Today, the work “experience” has been redefined, as the workplace feels more like a mall than an office. Retaining top talent demands experiences that enhance an employee’s workday. Organizations are therefore incorporating luxury services that employees would normally participate in after-hours — like massage, acupuncture and yoga — into their office settings. You might also recharge with an espresso or meditate in a nap pod during your workday. Organizations are only limited by their imaginations when adding experiences.

Coworking 2.0

The idea of shared workspaces is not new, nor is the success of coworking spaces. However, the trend we are seeing is sharing talent as well as workspace. Removing the walls and sharing an open space allows companies to use temporary workspace for collaboration — a concept that shatters the idea that employees work for one company, and instead introduces the idea of employees working for one goal.

Coworking spaces include lots of glass and greenery as well as plenty of couches, chairs, portable walls and desks to encourage tenants to create meeting areas. Such a concept proves we are better when we work together.

Revivals Rule!

“Will and Grace” was reprised in 2019, along with several other sitcoms; audiences loved it then and love it now. Modernizing something old is also a theme seen in the fashion industry, as we watch our old favorites come back into style.

Office redesigns embraced this trend by reviving buildings and spaces that were not typically used for offices. Old mill buildings and warehouses were blank slates that companies used to infuse their brand, keeping the old craftsmanship and pairing it with modern furniture. Moral of the story: Do not throw away that shag rug! (Maybe.)

Embrace Mother Earth

Biophilic is not a condition, it’s a design philosophy that highlights nature in architecture. Putting a potted tree in the conference room did not cut it in 2019 — companies embraced the outdoors and all of nature’s benefits. Moss walls, natural materials and lighting were among the items infusing the workplace. Urban and suburban locations became home to kale farms and living green walls.

Using nature to promote creativity was a smash hit. L.L. Bean and other organizations took their brands to the next level by creating offices that “pop-up” outside, where employees can work in treehouses, parks or pods. The sky is the limit.

‘Alexa, Order Thai for Lunch’

Technology is hardly a trend — treehouses now include Wi-Fi and charging stations, slim computer screens make for easier mobility in coworking spaces, etc. Technology continues to provide conveniences that improve our daily work and personal lives. For example, Nest thermostats help regulate temperatures in buildings while providing energy savings. 2019 also saw the introduction of AI devices and apps to perform tasks once done by humans. Alexa and Google speakers now collect data and improve their learned responses to make your work life more convenient, as noted by Work Design Magazine. At this rate, the future of scheduling meetings just might be with Alexa, instead of your administrative assistant.

Because organizations are challenged with maximizing space to incorporate these trends, office transformation is key. In order to add employee amenities, many organizations should begin with a records and equipment audit. A third-party audit can identify which assets are taking up valuable physical space, that could otherwise be used to improve the employee experience.

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