Seven Workplace Design Trends

I have found that the main driving design factors in a commercial workplace environment are typically quite similar to those in a healthcare or science research environment. Designs must utilize real estate in the most efficient and productive manner in order to create a space that better supports all of its users, leading to positive user satisfaction, high performance and productivity.

In recent years, we have seen significant changes in the way we approach designing workplace environments. Spaces have begun to evolve in order to appeal to the ever-changing and fast-paced world we know today.  My past experience, paired with SBA’s extensive knowledge in the healthcare, science and technology and commercial workplace market, has shown that by incorporating the ideals of the following seven trends, while simultaneously prioritizing them to meet your unique client’s needs, you will have significant influence on the success of the project.

  1.  Activity Based Workplace-

Open vs. Private & Focused vs. Collaborative

Balanced workplaces are found to be the most effective environments for their employees. Assigned personal work spaces must allow some level of adjustment because needs for privacy and enclosure vary per individual’s personality (extravert or introvert) and work activities (focused or collaborative)  Collaboration spaces should come in varying sizes and informal huddle areas should be in the immediate proximity of the people use them. If assigned personal work space is in an open office configuration, phone booth or quieter areas to recharge should be made available. The key is to give employees options to choose from as productivity levels tend to rise when employees feel they have  control over their working environments.

  1.  Technology Driven

Technology can now be integrated into almost every square foot of new workplace environments.  Work can happen everywhere and technology can decide where, how, and when employees work. The key is to understand how a space and the employees within it will need to use their required technology. This will allow for the incorporation of reliable technology early on in the design process while also providing accommodations for new technology in the future..

  1. Design to Impress-

Building Brand Awareness

The workplace should be a reflection of company’s brand and convey an intended message to everyone who enters the space. Through the use of architecture, materials, finishes, environmental graphics, and artwork selections, designers can create a cohesive visual and spatial experience that brings authenticity and meaning to a workplace.

  1.  Combine Edginess with Sophistication

A recent shift in workplace design has been observed by many in the field. In an effort to embrace cohesiveness across multi-generational employees, design style and language no longer focus solely on millennial specific and youthful themes. The swing has resulted in the use of elegant color tones and attractive materials, combined with modern industrial accents in new built environments. This shift seems to make sense when the early millennials are also maturing both in age and in their career. 

  1. Design for Well-being

Healthy workplaces can be now designed to achieve many sustainable standards, ratings, and certification programs such as NetZero, WELL Building Standard, and LEED certifications. These programs promote , high-performing building environment that is environmentally and socially responsible.  Sustainable products and access to natural daylight are just two of the most noticeable factors that can lead to a healthier and more energy efficient work environment. But some measures can be as simple as a sit-stand desk in lieu of the universal sit-down desk..

  1. Balance Efficiency and Amenities

By providing amenities in a space, employers are able to increase an employee’s satisfaction while also attracting and retaining top talent. The level at which staff amenities are incorporated into a space can vary greatly.  Food and drink venues, outdoor spaces, exercise and social areas can be attractive but potentially costly amenities. Balance is the key to maintaining an efficient use of real estate. It is important to note, when designing an open-office floor plan, the addition of personal storage becomes important

  1. Future Proof

In order to design a space that is “future proof,” incorporation of flexible attributes is a must. A work environment must be able to grow with the needs of the company it houses.  Consider using demountable partitions and flexible, modular furniture. 

What key workplace design trends have you found in your endeavors have the most influence on a projects success? 


Project Image:

Venrock, Headquarters, Corporate Workplace and Think-Tank Space, Boston, MA

SBA recently completed renovations of Venrock's Corporate HQ. The space transformed into open-office, co-working/collaborative working environment. Venrock helps entrepreneurs build some of the world’s most disruptive, successful companies, and needed a mix of open offices as well as community spaces to enhance collaboration and generate ‘bump and spark’ moments. The industrial finishes gave the office a modern feel appropriate for this venture capitalist firm.


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