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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 March 2019

Not just another day in the office: expect to work smarter in 2019

Sit-stand furniture and breakout areas, featuring stimulating colours and exciting design features, will be more common this year

In recent years, office spaces have witnessed dramatic changes, reflecting ­developments in the way we work. More companies are opting for open designs and are encouraging employees to personalise their workspaces. Here are five office trends we expect to see as the year unfolds, writes Frazer Butcher, managing director of ­Humanscale Mena, pictured, an ergonomics design company that manufactures products to improve health and comfort in the workplace.

Breakout spaces

In an effort to buck the trend of shorter employee lifecycles, companies should prepare for a new generation of employees and an increasingly mobile workforce. Businesses need to respond to lower engagement and younger members of staff who are more likely to leave a job within five years. Among both the modern workforce and progressive employers, there is an acceptance that work should not be a daily grind. Rather, the office should be a pleasant space that motivates and encourages staff, making the job more enjoyable and boosting morale.

To this end, offices are incorporating more breakout spaces to give employees a chance to take a breather and return to their work refreshed. Breakout areas ­featuring bright, stimulating colours and exciting design features will be more common this year, with organisations embracing the examples set by tech giants such as Google and Facebook, by creating lounges and even games rooms to improve employee satisfaction.

Healthier workplaces

There is no let-up in the move towards more health-focused workplaces and active office furniture. Businesses are becoming aware of the role they have to play in creating a healthy work environment and a more active lifestyle. Although not new, sit-stand furniture continues to increase in popularity because it encourages greater levels of activity, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as musculoskeletal problems, such as back and neck pain. This boosts productivity, creativity and job satisfaction, which has a positive effect both for the individual and the business.

Adjustable desks allow employees to change the height of their desks in seconds, so they can alternate between sitting and standing through out the day. There is no doubt that 2019 will see companies utilising ergonomic seating and surfaces as a preventative rather than a curative measure. Forward-thinking employers will also encourage healthy behaviours such as taking regular screen breaks and being more active throughout the day.

In addition, biophilic design will play a more significant role in corporate environments, so expect greenery and more impressive examples of plant-based design to become more prominent this year. In a recent Human Spaces report, data shows employees who work in offices with natural elements – including natural light – reported a 15 per cent higher level of well-being and were 15 per cent more creative.

Multifunctional furniture

As firms seek out ways to maximise profits and decrease costs, commercial property is one area that presents the potential to reduce outgoings dramatically. As well as the increased popularity of hot-desking, companies will look to cut down the space each employee needs while at the office, minimising the total room required. As a result, there will be an increasing demand for spaces and furniture that can adapt to different needs in the office, creating more flexible workspaces. The same trend will be seen in furniture, too, with an increased demand for multipurpose pieces, such as sofa pods with built-in tables and conference tables that can also be used for bench-desking.

Room for the cool kids

The oldest members of generation Z are only 23 years old. However, experts estimate that they will represent more than a third of the total global workforce by 2020. Organisations need to adapt recruitment strategies to attract and retain these employees, who expect sophisticated software and technology strategies. Attracting the best talent from among the younger generation is competitive, and technology and gadgets are seen as a key way of engaging the cream of the crop. Installing relatively inexpensive gadgets to workspaces, such as advanced monitor arms and USB docking stations, can propel the daily working environment into the next decade.

Home offices

As more employees enjoy the benefits of flexible hours and remote working, home is becoming the new workplace for many. According to the latest statistics from Global Workplace Analytics, regular work-at-home among the non-self-employed has increased by 140 per cent since 2005, and 4.3 million employees now work from home at least half of the time. Humanscale can confirm that the statistics in the UAE are similar to global trends and, according to a 2018 study by International Workplace Group, 60 per cent of UAE employees work remotely at least one day each week.

To facilitate this shift, employees are seeking shared spaces or utilising home offices. As employers continue to look for top talent, many are offering remote working and flexible hours as an incentive, which is reflected upon by the demand for the burgeoning variety of home-office furniture solutions in the market. Increasing numbers of companies will offer more flexible working solutions such as this in 2019 in order to remain competitive and maximise job satisfaction for their top people.

Updated: February 21, 2019 07:25 PM

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