More than ever before, office design plays a critical role in a company’s overall success. New technologies often drive new trends, and of course work culture also affects the way people set up shop on the job. In an era of endless opportunity and experimentation with design, 2019 promises to be the year of office optimization.

Cubicles are making a comeback, but not the same cubicles we envision from days gone by. In large part prompted by the backlash against the open office space trend, the new cubicle aims to solve problems created by the recently popular open planning. But today’s cubicles are less box and more little room; these self-contained spaces offer four walls and a roof and accommodate one to four people comfortably.

The idea behind the open office was driven by positive motivations—ironically, to solve the problems of the cubicle culture, and also to encourage collaboration and allow for freedom of movement, flexibility, and creativity. However, the importance of corporate bottom lines spurred management to squeeze more and more people into those spaces, such that they did not feel so “open” anymore. And the psychological costs became apparent over time as well, with workers feeling a lack of privacy and cringing at the reality of constantly being on display.

However, not everyone is in love with the new cubicle, feeling that no matter how you spin it, it is still a bit de-humanizing. Many workers still appreciate a more open feel, as long as there can be dividing options, such as designated areas for certain types of work.

One positive outcome of this design trend is the advent of the experience-driven work culture. These types of spaces might offer anything from meditation areas to rock climbing walls to espresso bars or gaming rooms. The idea here is that a well-balanced work space is therapeutic for workers, and the payoff is happier, healthier, and more productive and loyal staff.

With employee wellness becoming increasingly important in workspace design, many of the trends for 2019 reflect those values. Creating a home-away-from home environment has become popular, and companies are integrating décor and design that evoke feelings of comfort and safety in their workspaces. Layered textures, lots of plants, and abundant storage go a long way toward infusing a comfortable and homey ambiance into an office. Integrating some bright and bold colors also helps a workplace come alive and imbue an energy very different from the traditional neutral and colder tones.

Ultimately, it is the task of the individual to seek his or her own work happiness and balance life with career, and certain behaviors can help ensure success in both arenas. For example, seeking out more movement, building social connections, and trying new things can help the modern employee create his or her own happiness routine. However, employers who care about building a healthy and invigorating space can show staff members that they are supported and encouraged to find success in both work and in life.

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