Although Zalcberg’s argument was focused mostly on the change in design he’s observed in corporate offices and traditional companies, these shifts in workplace trends also affect the flexible workspace market. As the industry grows and larger companies begin to adopt flexible work options, workspace owners and managers will need to attract and win over the companies as well as its employees.
In a phone interview with Zalcberg, we got to discuss workplace trends, where they’re going, and what we can expect from design in the future.
Zalcberg began by noting that “what we’re seeing is the millennial shift in the workplace; where it seems that design is getting more minimalist, sleeker, and with nicer finishes. There’s nothing big and bulky in today’s design trends. We’re also seeing that design has become more about individualism; people want to feel like the space is their own.”
But this shift goes beyond the aesthetics of making an office or workplace look cool or casual. “The workplace is no longer just the place where people work; it’s now a tool that, when implemented correctly, can trigger the brain, productivity, and creativity.”
What Zalcberg is saying goes well in hand with multisensory design, which says that everything around us (including the workplace and its design) is a stimuli, and people can react to these stimuli consciously or subconsciously. “You can do things you don’t realize you’re doing, and get better results for it.”
He gives us the following example:
“If you walk into a room that’s yellow, red, or simply colorful, you perk up internally. It’s just a color on the wall, but it’s not the traditional beige; it’s telling you that you can get out or think outside of the box.”
According to Zalcberg, “how companies and flexible workspaces shift into this more casual office is going to be crucial to how they can attract the largest number of workers, and also how they’ll retain them.”
Some flexible workspace managers are ahead of the game in this sense, especially coworking spaces, as they tend to start out with the latest and greatest in terms of design trends. But others aren’t seeing the opportunity as clearly as they should. Zalcberg notes that this is particularly the issue with small businesses that have been around for 20 or 30 years.
“These small businesses are not thinking about how workplace design is a factor that plays into their success. For them, the thought of spending a large sum of money to redesign their workspace isn’t too appealing.”
This is an issue that’s affecting the flexible workspace industry as well; particularly business centers and executive suite managers that made an investment in workplace design years ago and are now having a hard time deciding whether or not they should jump on the wave of more casual offices.
“When I talk about casual it’s really in conjunction with the subconscious barriers. It’s about the psychology behind design.”
Casual workplaces will allow workers to power and recharge, they will help individuals realize that sitting and staring at a screen for 8 hours is not productive, nor is it effective. Casual workplaces are focused on removing the barriers (conscious and unconscious) that cause stress and can also make people sick.
In essence, flexible workspaces are already casual, especially those that have been able to adopt and accommodate the modern workforce’s wants and needs.
As for what goes and what stays in future workplaces, Zalcberg has the following to say.
“No matter what, comfortable seating is always going to be necessary. Granted, design will evolve and will go in conjunction with the latest ergonomic trends, but I’ll say this: the chair will always exist. It may shift and become more core oriented, but ultimately comfortable seating should not (and won’t) die.”
On the other hand, storage furniture is likely to disappear. “As the cloud is increasingly used and we are able to store more things and documents in it, the need for storage will decline. The bright side is that this will allow for more desks, or other types of workstations and areas to be implemented.”
Surprisingly, Zalcberg believes the computer monitor will become somewhat obsolete. “In the future, we will be using holograms and other types of technology that can easily be pulled out of smaller objects.”
The takeaway is that the workplace of the future will focus on removing barriers, physical and mental, that will allow workers to be their most efficient and productive selves at all times, regardless of where they are. Flexible workspace operators should pay attention to what their members want, to what they’re asking, and they need to be resilient enough to adapt as the workforce shifts and as trends evolve.
Oh! And you (flexible workspace operator) should never, then, run out of chairs.
Images via OFM