Redesigning the Shared Office: 3 Emerging Trends

As the number of shared office providers continues to climb, more established players in the alternative office market are overhauling existing centers to better reflect the tastes and working habits of today's renters.

In many cases, this means blurring the line between what has typically been referred to as executive office suites -- that is, private offices with shared common areas -- and coworking spaces, many of which feature a more open, modern layout with unassigned desks or workstations.

Today, existing centers are drawing inspiration from their newer counterparts by knocking down walls to create more collaborative areas that make it easier for tenants to socialize and work side-by-side with their peers. On the flip side, some newcomers to the shared office sector are adding walls after realizing fully open floor plans aren't conducive to the day-to-day operations of most businesses.

Whether newly renovated or newly constructed, these shared office environments are beginning to more closely resemble each other, illustrating some common themes that have emerged as professionals who work in these centers suggest ways they can be improved. These trends include:

  • One size does not fit all: The lack of control in an open office can deflate morale and even have detrimental effects on employee health and productivity. Yet many workers, particularly millennials, have no desire to be walled off in cubicles or private offices that limit face-to-face interaction. As a result, many shared office centers are starting to offer a variety of workspaces that allow tenants to choose the setting that works for them, even if that changes from one day - or hour - to the next. This includes standard offices and workstations, as well as smaller day offices, sometimes referred to as "phone booths" due to their size, that are ideal for calls or solo work.
  • Fitbit-friendly design: The development of mobile technologies has changed how people work, and shared offices are starting to reflect that. Instead of sitting in an office chair all day, today's health-conscious workers, many of whom have started tracking their daily fitness activity with Fitbit and other wearable devices, want to spend at least part of the day on their feet. This has created demand for treadmill desks and elevated workstations that can be raised and lowered throughout the workday. The addition of lounges, gaming rooms and other social areas has also given employees plenty of opportunities to get up and move around.
  • Wall-to-wall interaction: Traditional wall treatments are out. Glass partitions, whiteboards and even old-school chalkboards are in, making it easy for workers to jot down thoughts during meetings and brainstorming sessions, and revisit ideas at a later time instead of filing them away in a notebook. These writable surfaces not only infuse a workspace with personality, but also help establish a sense of community by giving shared office users a public forum where they can interact with their peers.

What design trends are you seeing -- or would you like to see -- in your office? Sound off in the comments section below.