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In 1999, the CCIM Institute predicted that office space design in the future will consist of more-flexible offices and an increase in shared space. Turns out, the prediction was spot on.

Today, more and more offices are turning to open and collaborative layouts and comfortable work areas. As the traditional work environment begins to shift, employers are faced with the challenge of simplifying their spaces. Here are a few top trends in office space design, and some tips on how to improve your office environment to promote collaboration.

Fewer Offices, More Shared Space
Open workspaces are becoming a mainstream occurrence in the workplace. Rather than traditional cubicles and closed offices, employers are starting to implement shared spaces where employees can collaborate and freely interact. Communal desks help promote employee interaction and foster a creative environment.

While open office design is taking off, it is not without drawbacks. According to research conducted by Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear of the Center on the Built Environment at the University of Sydney, production can suffer in open offices, because employees may struggle to concentrate in noisy spaces with minimal privacy. Their research found that almost half of employees in open offices cited the lack of sound privacy as a frustrating aspect of their work environment.

However, when there’s a problem, there is often a solution. Breakout rooms and areas where employees can “sneak away” for privacy and silence can help improve productivity. Furthermore, shared spaces such as couches and kitchens can help move employees away from their desks for projects requiring collaboration—thus giving those on the “work floor” the silence they need to concentrate.

Embracing Flexibility
With the insurgence of open designs, it is essential that employees have the necessary tools to easily move around the office; access to laptops, mobile devices and wi-fi is a key consideration and becomes increasingly important in non-traditional workspaces.

Additionally, Design & Trend noted that CORT, a furniture rental company, found that stools and standing tables are increasingly popular office furnishings. Employers can provide these options as an alternative to the traditional chair and desk setup, particularly as employees are becoming aware of the health implications of sitting all day.

Downsizing
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 40 percent of the American workforce will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors and “solopreneurs” by 2020. And with the technology boom, it’s becoming easier to access important work documents from virtually anywhere. In effect, employers are downsizing. The New York Times cited recent research from CoreNet Global, which found 40 percent of survey respondents expected to allot 100 square feet or less per worker in five years. Accordingly, smaller offices may not necessarily mean employee layoffs, but instead give employees the option to work remotely—or from co-working spaces.

Co-working facilities provide employees with a shared work environment with freelancers and individuals from different organizations. Together with the rise of the independent worker, co-working will change how we view the structure of the office.  With more shared space, mobility and smaller offices, the traditional office is no more. Instead, innovative design and social collaboration are taking over.