By Reno Macri

As we bid farewell to 2015, our thoughts inevitably turn to the concept of ‘change’ and we ponder what will be different in 2016. For many businesses, the new year period serves as an ideal time to renovate the office space, in order adapt it to their future needs and to bring it up to date with current trends. So with that in mind, here are some of the key office design trends you can expect to see over the course of the next 12 months.

Multi-Purpose Workspaces

Over the course of a typical day, the modern office worker has to carry out a variety of tasks, making use of multiple different devices to do so. The varied nature of most job roles in 2016 is likely to require the ability to collaborate with others, but also have privacy when it is needed and multi-purpose workspaces may be the solution.

In recent years, we have seen a shift, with the average office design company becoming more aware of the dangers of sitting down for too long. However, the original replacement for this, standing desks, are already being phased out for customisable workspaces, which allow a combination of the two, as and when it suits.

Typical features of a customisable, multi-purpose workspace include:

  • Height adjustable work stations, allowing for easy transition between standing and sitting;
  • Designated quiet and collaborative spaces, allowing workers to seek privacy when they need it;
  • Easy access to USB charging ports and increased desktop storage space for multiple devices;
  • Non-assigned seating and a continued transition away from the traditional work cubical.

The Rise of Co-Working Offices

In addition to an increase in multi-purpose workspaces, 2016 is also expected to be the year that co-working spaces really enter the mainstream. This will mean freelancers and remote workers travelling into communal offices and sharing the space with people from different companies and even from entirely different business sectors.

“One of the obvious benefits of working in a space with other companies and professionals is the ability to network,” says Jeremy Goldman, the CEO of the Firebrand Group. “For freelancers, the co-working model offers an outside opinion to which they otherwise wouldn’t have access.”

With technology like Skype and FaceTime allowing instant face-to-face communication on the go, remote work is only going to become more common. However, a major problem for freelancers and remote workers is the detrimental impact working at home or in a noisy café can have on productivity. Already, the co-working space is showing signs of being the answer, with 71 percent of respondents to a Global Co-working Survey by Deskmag saying they felt more creative in the co-working environment, and 62 percent reporting improvements to work quality.

Embracing the Natural World

Finally, when it comes to office interior design, one of 2016’s most obvious trends is going to be a continued focus on nature and finding ways of bringing the outside world into the workplace. We have already seen some emphasis on this, following the 2014 Human Spaces report and multiple studies linking natural light to increased productivity.

“Design is going back to basics,” explains Scott Lesizza, principal at Workwell Partners, a company based in New York and offering office design solutions. “Incorporating natural flora patterns in fabrics and artwork is becoming more prominent, along with plant life itself in the form of living walls.”

We expect designers to continue to try to maximise natural light, without hindering everyday workplace practicalities, and anticipate more stone and wood-based furniture. Moreover, 2016 is likely to see more greenery and even the introduction of fire elements into the office environment, as designers strive to meet ‘biophilic’ targets.