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Workplace Trends: Sustainability

11 February, 2020

Walking into a new year can mean many things. One of those things is that a new year often brings new trends. At first sight, you might not pay too much attention to them or you consider them flaky or ridiculous. But these trends will later become the indicators of larger societal movements and changes. Therefore, it makes sense to give them some attention! In this article series we will address the biggest office design trends for 2021 - starting with sustainability. 

We understand that sustainability has been on the agenda for some time now. However, making sustainable choices can be many things. Here we will discuss new materials and co-working. 

Out with the processed materials

Another name for this trend is environmental wellness. In some aspects, that name illustrates the trend better because it entails a bigger picture perspective. Creating a workplace design with a more sustainable approach involves both physical interior as well as enabling higher wellbeing among your coworkers. For example, this trend means getting rid of as much processed materials as possible and to give room for more natural materials. Better for the environment – better for the people.

Natural elements everywhere

The physical aspects of this trend are really prominent. It can be as small as earthy colors and as big as putting grass on the floors inside. More often than not, it includes a lot of visible wood on the floor, walls, ceiling, furniture - you name it. This is also called Biophilia. But it’s more than just looks. The main goal is to use materials that are sustainably sourced, green and/ or recycled. It also entails using technology to drive energy efficiency in the office. 

New standards and certifications

By now you might be thinking “can I just paint my walls green and say that I’m sustainable?”. The answer is no. With this trend follows different standards and certifications which states that your office actually is sustainable. Certifications such as Living building challenge, LEED and FitWel are used to guide, advise and reward you in the process of creating an environmental wellness designed office. With that being said, any attempt to make your office more sustainable is a job well done. What we’re trying to say is that it’s possible to jump on this trend without getting certified, although painting the walls green is not enough.

This trend is definitely a reaction to the vital increase in sustainability awareness all over the world. But it’s also more than that. It integrates environmentally friendly materials with active efforts to increase the wellbeing of the coworkers.

Co-working and the sharing economy

Another part of the sustainability theme is the sharing economy. Co-working spaces has long been linked to small startups and businesses, but now we see an increase of interest from bigger companies as well. After all, co-working and sharing resources with others is not only environmentally friendly, in addition it also help you save money. In times where we are starting to question old beliefs about where and how we work, we suddenly have a lot of options. Helene Tigerström, CEO of the co-working space Mindpark put is like this: 

"I think that sustainable companies with conscious employees will be the companies that will make it in the future. Regardless if it's economic sustainability, social sustainability or environmental sustainability. When more people understand the importance of those questions, they will also choose a workplace supporting those beliefs. For some it might be co-working, but for others it might be something else."

Sustainability will not be a passing trend, it will be a way of living. As Helene mentioned above, it will not mean the same thing for every business, but every business will need to find their own way of making sustainable choices. Read the full interview with Helene about co-working here!

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