Top Fit Out Trends

Howard Posney

We recently spoke to Howard Powsney, Director of Aytch who Vantage work alongside on various workplace design projects about the top 3 trends in office fits out at the moment.

Plug & Play

This type of working is definitely on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down either. The modern worker is operating their business entirely from a laptop. As we continually move to the cloud our only limit is a high-speed internet connection.

With the reinvention of serviced offices for startups and small businesses, traditional landlords are recognising that prospective tenants are keen on moving into a ready to go ‘plug and play suites’.

We’ve recently been involved in schemes where the landlord provides a fully fitted solution, including meeting rooms, kitchenettes and all the loose furniture.  Tenants just arrive, unpack and off they go – the business formula works in a similar fashion to the co-working model.

Ready to move into spaces where work can begin immediately

Flexible Space

Spaces where the only fixed elements could be a kitchenette, toilets and a few nominal meeting rooms, offer tenants the opportunity to get creative with space. Often our clients see the benefits of a fully flexible working environment as they grow, adapting to the needs of the business and their employees.

Similarly, a scheme we delivered in the heart of Manchester provided empty suites for smaller businesses, complete with plug and play technology installed, communal kitchenette facilities and a business suite. Providing these facilities as separate entities to suites, allows tenants to make full use of their demise with minimal fit-out works.  As part of this type of letting, landlords also offer furniture packs which are on short lead times, speeding up the process of getting tenants signed up and moved in. Flexibility is key.

Call booths, 1:1 spaces and high back booths can all be modular and flexible. These type of items have been around for a while, but we’ve never really been fans of them. Limited choice, poor acoustics and uninspiring designs have never really sold them to us, but the current market has an abundance of them. Sift through to find the hidden gems, which aren’t cheap, but clients see them as investments which can be relocated or even sold on after use. They have the added benefit of having limited or no dilapidation costs  due these type of rooms being stand alone units.

Flexible spaces which can be reconfigured easily

Human Senses

We’ve seen the rise of the ‘living walls’ and the trend towards using our senses to help make a connection with space.

That can include sounds, smells, sight and touch to create lasting memories, as well as enriching our well-being.

A study by Exeter University found that employees were 15% more productive when working in a ‘green’ office than their peers in more spartan environs. 

Sight – the way the design looks; colour schemes, lighting and the use of natural elements.

Bolder colours are said to help achieve a higher level of focus with the colour palette affecting our mood from yellow uplifting to red raising blood pressures.

Sound – one of the most considered senses in the workplace but also the most distracting and impactful on productivity. If open spaces aren’t designed properly and quiet areas included for independent working, it can soon start to have an impact on employee work levels, no matter how good it looks.

Smell – one of the most powerful senses yet often the most neglected in fit-outs. Smells can evoke strong emotional reactions. Although preferences are often a highly personal matter, relating to specific memories and association, there are some fragrances which appear to be universally perceived as ‘pleasant’ – such as vanilla.

Mint and Eucalyptus are great for helping you to feel more energised and alert. Sandalwood, Geranium and Vanilla are known to uplift and boost the mood, helping you to stay more positive.

Touch – often the least considered sense in office design and can be responsible for a range of emotions. Varying textures can help engagement and appeal such as seating areas that offer a balance of practicality and comfort.

Taste – well-designed food and drink areas can be a vital part of creating a sense of community and aiding concentration. Break out areas, can help encourage staff to relax and chat, aiding productivity. Employers recognise the benefits of healthy food and some of our clients are exploring ways they can incorporate freshly prepared, healthy food as part of their employee salary sacrifice package.

Temperature – a crucial factor when designing comfortable office environments. Offices that are too hot can harbour germs, leading to reduced productivity and a negative impact on well being. Equally, cold offices can also pose problems for employees health and productivity.

Using human senses to aid well being and productivity

The trend of incorporating wellbeing into our working lives is showing no signs of slowing down – and rightly so. Modern life is busy. Personal life is busy. Our always-connected status blurs the boundary between office time and playtime.

As a result, striking a work/life balance has never been so meaningful.

We have the responsibility to shake up the way our clients perceive working environments as well as exploring ways to improve the lives of their employees. When we collect briefs from our clients, it’s never a tick-box exercise about accommodation schedules, but instead focused on people and their typical routine, ensuring users working days are balanced with a variety of spaces, amenities, functionality and uses. We can’t dictate how people operate their lives, but we can certainly assist in ensuring that their day is productive enough to allow them to have a life outside of work.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss your next project. We’re always happy to help.