Office furniture trends for 2020

Office furniture and design reflects the core values of a company and must evolve to welcome new ways of working and keep the business relevant. It influences employee behaviour, informs client opinions and attracts new recruits. We take a look at the office design trends expected to be popular in the year ahead.

1. Green spaces

Biophilic design was a big trend for 2019 and this is expected to continue into 2020. Incorporating plants into the office is a simple way to boost wellbeing and productivity. Access to natural green spaces inspires creative ideas and reduces stress levels, making them a smart addition to any workplace. There are a number of ways to do this, ranging from indoor planters filled with real or artificial plants near desk areas to an urban rooftop garden space or living green wall in the office.

2. Communal office furniture

A rise in the popularity of co-working spaces such as WeWork has led to different expectations of what an office should provide. People demand greater flexibility from their workspace than they did in the past and want the ability to work anywhere. In order to keep on top of this trend, offices need to provide multi-purpose furniture that adapts to different ways of working. Solutions such as sit-stand desks available for use as hot desks, breakout spaces with adequate power connectivity and office booths give workers the flexibility they want.

3. Impactful collaborative spaces

A few years ago offices were trying to imitate the perceived laid-back atmosphere of some big tech companies by adding games rooms, bars and other superficial perks for staff. Moving forward, we will see less gimmicky and more practical shared workspaces that place an emphasis on teamwork. These spaces will provide the resources that colleagues require to be able to work together comfortably and effectively. This includes furniture that can be reconfigured easily so that employees can adapt it to their current needs depending on the purpose and number of people present.

4. Quiet zones

One of the most important trends of 2020 will be that of creating private areas and quiet spaces in open office environments to address high noise levels. The last couple of years have seen the start of a backlash against the open office. Some people struggle to concentrate in open plan offices, others want a quiet space for certain tasks or conversations. The aim, therefore, is to find a way to provide the privacy of the closed-plan office but without the same demands on space. The most effective way to achieve this is through the use of acoustic furniture to create individual workspaces and secluded huddle spaces for small groups. Solutions such as acoustic office pods, acoustic sofas and booths offer a way to shelter workers from the noise of the office without the need to return to the cubicle structure of the late 20th century.

5. Smart technology

With a move away from allocated desks, smart devices such as occupancy sensors on hot desks, smart booking systems for desks or meeting rooms and wireless charging facilities will be increasingly important to ensure the office works efficiently. Smart technology will also become an effective way to improve employee health and wellbeing through the introduction of sit-stand desks that integrate with apps to encourage active working. This technology will send notifications to the user to remind them to stand up or move around and can be personalised to individual preferences.

6. Home away from home

Offices will focus on small touches, soft furnishings and comfortable fabrics that make workers feel more at home. Instead of commercial office furniture, there is a growing trend for "old" or vintage-looking sofas and breakout furniture that look lived in and welcoming. Decorative lamps, scatter cushions, plants and ornaments add to that homely atmosphere and blur the lines between work and leisure. The approach aims to reduce stress levels among employees and ensure they feel comfortable in the workplace.

While the open office continues to be the most popular workplace layout, a number of 2020’s trends will aim to mitigate some of the biggest inconveniences of this way of working. Quiet spaces and flexible office furniture will allow employees to have greater control over the way they work while smart technology will support the changes by improving connectivity and communication.