Hot desking, standing meetings, homey offices: we review the top 2024 office trends to watch for.
The modern office is rapidly evolving, and companies must adapt their workspaces to accommodate new priorities and styles of working. One design strategy that has been gaining major momentum is hot desking. Hot desking does away with permanent assigned seats, instead allowing employees to take any open desk on a given day. This flexibility enables activity-based working, collaboration, and efficient use of office real estate.
As we head into 2024, experts predict hot desking transforming into a mainstream norm rather than an alternative approach. Here are some of the key hot desking trends expected to shape offices in the coming years:
Flexible Floorplans Created for Movement
Many traditional offices have static cubicles and unwavering floorplans. However, the offices of the future will have fluid layouts and modular furniture supporting a mobile workforce. Desks will be used to varying degrees as employees will opt to work in a variety of alternate settings like lounges, cafes, meeting rooms, and phone booths throughout the day. Offices will designate different zones for quiet focus, collaboration, learning, and quick meetings. With employees not chained to one spot, the office becomes vibrant and bustling.
A survey by office furniture company Steelcase found that 64% of employees globally prefer mobile work rather than being stuck at one desk daily. Space flexibility is a top priority for of organizations as they plan future workplaces. Companies are shrinking workstations and purchasing modular, mobile furniture to enable activity-based working.
More Shared Desks
The ratio of employees to desks will tilt more towards shared desks rather than personal assigned desks. One study finds that as much as 40% of desks remaining unoccupied on any given day. Companies can make substantial real estate savings by reducing the overall number of desks and enabling desk sharing or hot desking for the remaining.
At the same time, advancements in digital technology enable a more cloud-based, paperless work environment where employees don't need to store lots of physical files and materials at their desks. Employees can stay productive without a personal office base. Shared desks with clean desk policies will prevail as the norm.
Tech Enabling Desk Management
Tracking desk usage and availability will become a lot more sophisticated through hot desking management software. Offices will install check-in and out tablets to monitor real-time occupancy and analyze trends.
Admins will be able to see real-time desk maps to allocate space efficiently. Employees can check apps to see desk availability and reserve a spot that suits their needs. Integrated hot desk tech will transform seat bookings from a hassle to seamless.
A leader in this space is Zynq, which provides a comprehensive hot desking solution. With Zynq, companies can easily visualize desk utilization rates, run reports on usage patterns, integrate with calendar systems, and allow desk booking through a convenient mobile app. Employees can quickly find and reserve the perfect desk with just a single-click or make a batch of bookings for a few days or even weeks.
The platform integrates seamlessly with workplace apps like Slack, Teams, Office 365, Google Calendar, and more. Zynq enables administrators to optimize desk planning and space allocation for any workforce size.
With solutions like Zynq, companies can realize the full benefits of hot desking programs - increased flexibility, collaboration, and real estate savings. Intelligent hot desk management systems will become mission-critical in the evolving workplace.
Focus on Workstyles Over Dedicated Desks
Companies will design workspaces tailored to the types of work employees do rather than just job titles. Marketing teams don't use space identically to IT teams, for example. Leading organizations will study patterns of focus work, collaboration, learning, and innovation across departments. Then they will lay out floorplans, desks, and amenities optimized for those work modes.
No two employees work exactly the same either. Companies will integrate flexibility for individual working preferences into the office. Workspaces will have a variety of settings to suit whether an employee needs to do intensive research, take back-to-back calls, review complex data, or enter flow state.
Homey Touches in the Office
Offices used to prioritize sleek, sterile environments signaling productivity and professionalism. But the pandemic awakened a desire for comfort, belonging, and humanity at work. Home-like elements are being incorporated into offices to soothe employees who split time between corporate and home workspaces. Desks may integrate armchairs, soothing artwork, decorative tchotchkes, plants, and framed photos.
Unassigned desks allow employees to customize their temporary spaces and feel at home. Companies like Airbnb, Spotify, and FlexJobs have added cozy lounges, bean bags, and even hammocks to boost comfort and a casual vibe. The sterile, cookie-cutter office filled with identical desks is fading out.
Collaboration Around Shared Tables
Many forward-thinking companies are ditching individual desks altogether for unassigned seating at large shared tables. For example, client services firm PwC redesigned their Montreal office around communal tables seating 6 to 12 people collaborating.
Shared tables enable highly visible, fluid teamwork. Having quick stand-up meetings or hashing out ideas becomes natural when co-located around a table. The shared table approach will keep growing as offices emphasize creative collisions between colleagues.
Of course, acoustic controls are still important to allow focused work amidst conversation. Strategically placed sound-masking partitions, foam barriers, and noise-reducing felt materials will help strike the right balance.
More Standing and Treadmill Desks
Prolonged sitting is being recognized as a health risk, making standing and treadmill desks an appealing wellness strategy. There is a strong trend towards companies implementing more standing desks or treadmills for knowledge workers to prioritize good ergonomics. The standing desk market is estimated to reach $10 billion by 2030.
Standing meetings are also on the rise - a study by the Texas A&M Health Science Center found standing meetings to be associated with 34% shorter meeting times. This is understandable as standing can be less comfortable and so keeps participants focused on the goal. More desks and conference rooms will be height-adjustable or purposefully exclude chairs. Look for treadmill desks to go mainstream as companies address ergonomics.
Sustainability Guides Design
The green footprint of office furniture and buildouts will be top of mind. Used office furniture purchases are increasing, along with recycled or biodegradable materials. Energy savings from proper HVAC zoning and LED lights will be factored into space plans. Environmental impact will steer renovation decisions at sustainable organizations.
When dedicated desks were the norm, employees typically had somewhere they could leave belongings when they went home, such as in drawers or simply on their dedicated desks. Post-pandemic the trend has strongly shifted towards hybrid work, with an Accenture survey stating that 83% of employees globally prefer a hybrid work environment.
Despite technology reducing the sheer number of ‘stuff’ we need to come in to the office, there are still some items people are motivated to bring and keep at the office. For those, personal lockers are a solution that is on the rise in hybrid workplaces.
Instead of dedicated desks, people can expect to have personal lockers at the office where they can keep various necessities easily accessible every time they come to the office and work at a shared hot desk.
Emphasis on Amenities
With employees hot desking desks rather than having dedicated offices, special attention will be paid to amenity spaces for rejuvenation throughout the day. Lounges, cafes, arcades, fitness studios, nap pods, gardens, massages rooms and more will provide oases away from workstations.
Amenities also reflect brand identity in more subtle ways. Outdoor retailer REI incorporates rock climbing walls and hiking trail maps at their HQ. Amenities aren’t just for fun - they provide intellectual and sensory stimulation that boosts creativity.
The bottom line is that offices are shifting from spaces designed primarily for individual tasks to environments nurturing productivity through connectivity. Hot desking leads the way in building buzzing hubs for fluid teamwork, innovation and culture. Companies not investigating flexible workspaces risk falling behind in the evolving race for talent, efficiency and competitive edge.
Adapting doesn’t mean ripping up your current office. The key is phasing hot desking layouts, furniture and technologies into spaces incrementally. Monitor utilization and gather employee feedback to home in on the right sharing ratios and amenities configuration. Lean on experienced workplace design firms to realize a vision that aligns with your strategy.
The winds of change are undeniably sweeping the corporate landscape. Is your office ready to embark on its hot desking journey? The workspace innovations coming in 2024 promise to usher in the future of work. Talk to us to see how you can start getting your office ready for the future.