This is What the Workplace Will Look Like in 2016

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Interior design is ever-changing. While it may not be the first thing to cross your mind when you think of what to expect from the coming work year, it’s hard to avoid the impact that physical space has on your experience.

Office interior designers are tasked with a unique challenge: they must create spaces that accommodate large groups of people, and those spaces must be both welcoming and conducive to productivity. It isn’t enough to design an office that simply looks or feels good; it has to help people work, too.

Here are some design trends that we expect to see more of in the coming year.

1) New and Improved Glass Walls

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Glass walls were once associated with the mightiest of financial districts, but they’ve since gained a bit of a bad reputation. Besides the fact that they’re absolutely everywhere, they tend to offer poor noise control, and they don’t handle light and reflections well from all angles.

This year, we’re expecting to see glass walls mixed in with more traditional layouts, especially with multiple colors. Colored walls would keep the space from looking too uniform while still offering the distinct look (and convenient translucence) that is unique to glass.

2) The Modernized Cubicle

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Cubicles don’t get enough credit. In a crowded work environment, with hundreds of employees moving around and chatting about business plans, it can be difficult to find some peace and quiet. Much like the quiet study areas on college campuses, workplaces need to offer a way to tune the world out so that you can tune into your own tasks.

Old-fashioned cubicles were soulless, hierarchical structures meant to keep social distractions to a minimum. There’s no reason to swing back to that model—but in the modern, collaborative workplace, it makes sense to create small spaces that offer a moment’s reprieve from the chaos.

3) Home-inspired Design

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If the trend towards coworking and space-sharing has taught us anything, it’s that the line between home and work is blurry. It’s not uncommon for people to want a bit of home in the workplace, and many an entrepreneur doesn’t mind doing their work at home.

In 2016, we expect to see a rise in home-inspired furnishings at the office. This trend already exists in coworking spaces, but it will grow as businesses realize that the comfort of home does a lot to boost a person’s mood.

4) Old-fashioned Materials

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Environmental sustainability has become such a big trend that it’s an aesthetic in and of itself. Natural materials like wood lend an unpolished, rustic vibe that’s all the rage in urban areas. It’s kind of like bringing a little bit of home to the office, except it’s nature instead of home.

On top of that, using materials like wood can be legitimately helpful to the environment, and it’ll do a lot to make employees happy about the space that they occupy.

5) Colored “White” Boards

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Whiteboards are a pragmatic office staple, but they look bland and they bring boring office work to mind. One easy, if superficial, way around this is to simply change the color. Bold, solid-color erasable boards are starting to replace the whiteboard, and if nothing else, they look fantastic.

6) Configurable Furniture

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Desks that can roll to wherever your coworkers are? Modular couches that can comfortably accommodate as many or as few people as necessary? Configurable furniture is the way of the future, especially in large, communal areas like the workplace.