11/10/2021 • 6 min read

The Top 4 Trends Happening in Spaces & Places

How a renewed effort to put people first is shifting the design world for the better

by Haworth, Inc.

Haworth works to identify and track trends to help our clients and customers meet their current needs and prepare for the future. Today, there are exciting changes to how spaces and places are being utilized. Here are 4 space and place trends that are expected to continue into the new year and beyond.

1. Repurposing Places to Put People First

A people-centric approach to public and private spaces is taking hold across all commercial segments and industries. A prime example is the focus on placemaking, or the trend to repurpose existing commercial spaces. Whole and partial buildings are being redeveloped and designed to serve people first.

Ghost Kitchens

By taking over empty spaces and repurposing them, delivery-only ghost kitchens are a profitable strategy for restauranteurs. Plus, they give diners the kind of experience many prefer—fast, quality food whenever and wherever they want it. Ghost kitchens were projected to account for 10% to 15% of market share by 2025, but the COVID-19 pandemic made an impact and accelerated this repurposing trend—with the market share expected to climb to as much as 25% by 2025.

Higher Education

Educational institutions are taking up the charge to repurpose commercial spaces, including closed shopping centers and malls. Earlier this year, Grand Rapids Community College Lakeshore Campus renovated space in the Westshore Mall in Holland, Michigan to consolidate programs and student support services in a larger space, and to enhance the educational experience. The site offers a location that is more accessible for students who once had to commute 25 minutes or more and acts as a community hub.

This trend is expected to continue in higher education throughout the US. The World Economic Forum forecasts that more than one billion people need to be reskilled by 2030 as 42% of core skills are expected to change. In fact, more than one-third of all jobs worldwide will be transformed by technology in the next decade. As higher education institutions continue to repurpose spaces near where students already live, we will see more equitable accessibility to training and learning opportunities.

Rental Housing

In the US, it is only a matter of time before multi-story parking structures are repurposed to create affordable housing. Park House is a proposal by American firm KTGY Architecture + Planning calling for the transformation of unused parking garages into the framework for housing units that would be built from industrial shipping containers. In the UK, the John Lewis department store plans to convert car parks into 10,000 rental housing units across the country. The transformation is driven by an ambition to address the UK’s housing shortage and to support local communities. In addition to leasing repurposed housing spaces, the retailer will offer residents a furniture rental option.

Coworking Spaces

As companies and workers continue to relocate away from cities, many traditional office spaces are being converted to coworking spaces. Office.One in Hamburg, Germany resides in a brick building from the 19th century. Features like wide, bright rooms with high ceilings, large industrial windows, a light-flooded gallery, brick walls, and steel doors complemented with attractive furniture from their own manufacturing and their partner brands evoke a special atmosphere perfect for coworking. With the introduction of SaksWorks, retailer Saks reinvented the department store to include workspaces that provide food, social common areas, and concierge services. In downtown Miami, the CitiGroup Center is having an influx of new-to-market companies flocking to its spec suite—space typically associated with a flexible, short-term lease for 70,000 square-feet or less.

A Reason to Commute

Workplace design firms M Moser Associates and Gensler both note a shift in how existing office spaces are being used today. Rather than a focus on individual workstations, more space is being dedicated to collaboration and amenities that give people a reason to make the commute into the office—such as coffee bars, lounge areas, free fitness centers, etc.

2. More Nature is Good For Everyone

The role of nature is expanding in the workplace. According to Fast Company Magazine, the move toward the outdoors has been underway for years. The new generation of outdoor spaces are all about adding new areas where people can work, interact, and recharge.

Harnessing Natural Beauty

At TreeWork, a coworking space created by Busch Light, the beauty of nature is leveraged to help employees recharge and alleviate stress and fatigue. In addition to expansive views of the Colorado wilderness, workers have access to grills, campfires, hiking trails, fishing, and kayaking.

Pop-Up Outdoor Spaces

Leaders at LinkedIn continually seek ways to formalize outdoor workspaces that provide employees with the benefits of natural light and fresh air. Their pilot workspaces have included overhead garage doors and a rolling conference room, as well as pop-up outdoor spaces for offices in locations that have a short window of warm weather.  

3. The Wow-Factor is an Expectation

In order to bring people back to the office, employers are working to create destination-worthy workplaces. The idea of the workplace has evolved. Though many companies were increasingly offering remote or blended work-from-home options before the pandemic began, it assured us that in this technologically enriched day and age, a workplace can be wherever someone can bring their laptop. Because of this new reality, work from anywhere spaces and places are designed—with wow-factors that offer additional benefits and advantages to entice employees to work onsite.

A Glimpse of What’s to Come

For students touring a half-dozen or more campuses in-person or by video, distinctively designed spaces are far more impressive and memorable. At the College of Aviation at Western Michigan University (WMU), located at the Battle Creek Executive Airport in Michigan, an outdoor firepit welcomes students before they even set foot in the building. Once inside, prospective students and their parents experience a hub of activity. Semi-private spaces provide areas for prospective students and their parents to talk with current students, staff, and faculty. In benching spaces, current students settle in to study, work, and socialize. The wow-factor is prevalent inside and out.

First Impressions Matter

Research shows that Millennial parents start posting pictures of their children online earlier than Gen X parents. To create a wow-factor, business owners are utilizing awe-inspiring architecture, creative backdrops, and sleek furniture to design places that make people feel sophisticated and comfortable—and that look good in photos posted online. Employers, fitness centers, daycares, retailers, restaurants, and hotels are taking note and putting more emphasis than ever on initial experiences and first impressions. 

4. Technology Transforms How and Where We Work

Employers continue to grapple with who must return to the office and when, as well employee turnover in the wake of the pandemic. Technology has always played a role in collaboration and keeping workers connected. Now it has taken on an even more important role as a work-from-anywhere ecosystem becomes the norm.

Hybrid Work

With heightened attention on hybrid rooms that connect employees working at the office with those working from anywhere, the ability of organizations to provide advanced technology is on the rise. Cameras that show everyone in the room, better sound quality, and visual collaboration tools are must-haves to enhance communication for teams working in a hybrid model. Plus, the right technology and proper access play a role in an organization’s ability to attract and retain employees.

Wi-Fi and Remote Work Capabilities

Updating wireless infrastructure is becoming a necessity as more employees return to the office. With an increase in video and voice work being streamed on office networks, what worked well nearly two years ago, pre-pandemic, is in a lot of ways now obsolete. In order to support productivity, collaboration, and connection among employees and with customers, companies need to ensure they have ample bandwidth and coverage for wireless devices.

Designs and Inspiration for Every Space

Explore the latest design trends for your workspace including Idea Starters, Haworth Spaces, and Customer Spaces.


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