5 Office Design Trends for 2019

ofwllc Office Design Blogs, Workplace Design Resources

Here’s our take on a quick glossary of 5 themes you’re sure to hear about office design trends in 2019. We’re going to cover the meteoric rise of flexible office space, resimercial design, amenities, ancillary spaces, and, finally, designing for five generations simultaneously.

Flexible Office Design Trends

flexible office space | coworking | hot desking | remote work
According to data from Cushman & Wakefield, occupying a desk in Hong Kong under a traditional lease arrangement costs $27,432 annually. This is nearly twice the amount of any other city in Asia and more than 18% more than in London, its nearest global competitor. In comparison, it costs just $7,607 per year to rent a desk in a coworking or serviced office space, saving businesses up to 73%.

Corporate occupiers have long been pursuing workplaces that can respond business needs as well as afford a competitive advantage. And, in response, the office furniture industry has been delivering “flexible” solutions for years. However, these have been oriented for implementation within an occupier’s footprint. Going forward, JLL’s Global Trends Report names an increasing demand for collaborative work environments that support innovation as a top 10 driver in corporate real estate. The response? By 2022, GCUC predicts that there will be 5.1 million occupants of flexible office spaces globally. Coworking spaces typically offer access to different workspaces and amenities based on a membership tier, which affords a two-fold benefit.

Coworking is a low-risk way to easily add or reduce space – a characteristic 72% of corporate occupiers named as important in a survey by HLW. And that’s not to mention the incremental effect of those workers’ productivity. In a survey of flexible office space end-users, 82% of respondents reported that coworking has expanded their professional networks, 80% reported that they turn to other coworking members for help or guidance, and64% said their coworking networking was an important source of work and business referrals.


“Younger generations are spending a lot of time at work, so we’re trying to create a residential vibe,” says Primo Orpilla, founder of Office O+A, which has designed interiors for tech giants ranging from Uber to Microsoft. “The blurring of work and life is at an all-time high. For younger generations, work represents who they know and how they socialize.”

Craft is on the rise, and we’re not talking about your beer or coffee or sweater. Humanscale’s Director of Industrial Design identifies the main drivers in the adoption of resimercial office design trends. Fueled by the rise of mobility, remote work, and different work modes, employees are frequently given the choice of where to work. Given that option, it’s understandable that preference is placed on more comfortable environments.

The blend of residential and commercial design mimics colors, patterns and materials more commonly found at home. These elements all represent a dichotomy of comfort and stimuli. Earthy, natural tones and prominence of soft seating demonstrate the comfort component. Tactile surfaces (wood, stone, etc.) and textured upholstery balance the relaxed atmosphere with enough acute stimuli for the most fidgety occupant. And these office design trends extends beyond mid-century living room pieces. For example, the task chair chosen for 12,000 workstations in Apple Park represents a significant departure from the exoskeleton-look that has dominated offices for roughly thirty years.

Perk Design

“For companies looking to hire knowledge workers — of any age, who use and value the kinds of technological and workplace innovations that foster innovation and productivity — there’s a market demand for flexible and amenity-driven workplaces…
What talent wants is what tenants need is what landlords must provide.”
Forbes Real Estate Council

In a war for talent (employers) and tenants (occupiers), office space amenities have skyrocketed up the list of priorities for the built environment. Coworking operators stiffen the competition by providing much more than a space to work: beer on tap, gaming areas, interactive meeting spaces – the list goes on.

Healthcare and continuing education or training have long been staples of non-monetary incentive packages. As life and work continually merge, the demand for less tangible incentives increases. Flexible working policies and time off, volunteer opportunities, memberships and discounts are “perks” designed to support life outside work. Catered refreshments, a collaborative area to enjoy them, childcare, wellness incentives and technology or decor stipends are amenities geared toward more enjoyable life at work.

Furthermore, a workplace with “amenities” doesn’t necessarily entail ping-pong tables. Leesman conducted a survey across over 400,000 employees to determine the most important factors in workplace satisfaction. The top four service features? Toilets, refreshments, hospitality services and general cleanliness.

(No Longer) Ancillary

“Third places are important crossroads for people throughout the organization to come together and feel a sense of belonging. The space not only encourages social interaction which is vital for employee engagement, but also makes it easier for people to meet and collaborate while still enjoying the vibrant buzz of the environment.” Steelcase

“Third place” refers to a space beyond home and work where people can pause, gather, connect and refresh. 30%+ of respondents in a survey by K2 Space believe introducing informal spaces for working and collaborating would improve their office and the quality of meetings, specifically. Additionally, over 35% of Millennials and 25% of Baby Boomers desire private areas for taking calls. Paired with 50% of respondents in another survey claiming that modern office design was a key reason for accepting a previous position, the value of informal spaces is self-evident.

With the rise of remote work, employees are increasingly displaced from coworkers, resources and culture. According to workplace consultants Flex + Strategy, 31% of full-time employees in the United States do most of their work away from their employers’ locations. A more comfortable and energizing environment, the ability to work without being interrupted and, most likely, refreshments? The attraction to a coffee shop environment is understandable.

So, how can organizations cultivate arenas that support, reenergize and inspire? Phone booths and office bars are hot topics, but the name of the game is balancing spaces for privacy and collaboration (respectively) with functionality for workers. Casual corners, adjacent refreshments and quiet getaways can all be achieved in the context of most floorplans.

Designing for 5 Generations

Generation Z: Born 1997 onwards (aged 21 and under in 2018)
Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (aged 22-37)
Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (aged 38-53)
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 (aged 54-72)
Traditionalists: Born 1928-1945 (aged 73-90)

For the first time in history, our workplaces are seeing five generations simultaneously colocated. Exiting Traditionalists, senior Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and the emerging Gen Zers are all contributing value to our organizations. With differences in values, work preferences and habits, how can those organizations integrate office design trends that accommodate everyone?

  • First, don’t tailor to one group. Baby Boomers have fallen from 50% to 25% of the American workforce in the last 20 years, but Millennials shouldn’t monopolize workspace innovation. While they respond more favorably to workspace incentives than other generations, Millennials also spend the least time in dedicated areas.
  • Next, implement a mix of spaces. While Boomers are more comfortable in partitioned offices, Millennials thrive on spontaneity. Providing options for preference and work modes will enable each group to operate more effectively.
  • Then, devise a system to help everyone understand the purpose of each space. Clear, directional circulation paired with room designations will enable more seamless flows of people and work.
  • Finally, take steps to enable remote work.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this list of office design trends helps you navigate your way through the new year. Now, what do you think about your workplace? Not your company or coworkers, necessarily, but how the place we spend 1/3 of our lives affects you. We want to know – so, we’ll make you a deal. First, respond to a short survey (15 multiple choice questions). Then, we’ll send you an automatic 15% off and in-stock purchase at Office Furniture Warehouse AND enter you in a raffle for an ergonomic prize drawing. Sound good?