Top workplace trends in 2019: Predictions by industry experts

Picture of Gregory Blondeau

Added on by 4 min read


I've once again asked several top workplace experts to join me in sharing their take on the major workplace trends we can expect in 2019.

With multiple generations coming together in the workforce, making the effort to think outside that proverbial box is more important than ever.

Top 10 trends to look out for in 2019

  1. The Hybrid: Recognizing that "all workplaces exist in a state of perpetual beta."
  2. Business drives improvements: Business, not the workplace, needs to drive performance improvement. 
  3. Agile solutions: The main drivers of this being economic and political uncertainty.
  4. Better tenant experience: As expectations of tenants rise, a better tenant experience must be delivered.
  5. Culture is the key: Investing in culture as the enabler for the workplace transformation.
  6. Divergent Creativity / Co-creationAgile spaces foster environments for inclusive ideation and co-creation.
  7. End of one size fits all: Productivity and our personal satisfaction at work will rise as a result.
  8. Wellness: Having a Wellness strategy is essential in enhancing health and well-being to improve business outcomes.
  9. Smart Occupancy: Building and workspace intelligence must evolve to ride the waves in the changing workforce.
  10. Integrated workplace: Best-of-breed startups will integrate their offerings with each other to deliver a truly modern workplace.

(See what you missed in 2018 and 2017)  

Trend 1: The Hybrid

neil-usher-workplace-trends-2019"The ‘open plan’ debate of 2018 failed in most parts to address the fact that no single workplace approach can address all challenges entirely. In fact, a small number of these challenges are diametrically opposed. A dogmatic approach, based on trying to achieve ideological purity, will never work. 

In 2019 we shall start to see far greater levels of comfort with approaching workplace design with softer hands—understanding that all workplaces exist in a state of perpetual beta, weaving various workstyles together to meet divergent needs within the organisation. 2019 will be the year of of the hybrid."

Neil Usher, Executive Consultant at Unispace and Workessence

Trend 2: Business drives improvements

chris-hood-workplace-trends-2019"Business—not the workplace—needs to drive performance improvement. Last year, I forecast the uptake in multi-disciplinary thinking as a way of bringing a broader and more valuable array of solutions to the workplace and subsequently, to the contribution made by the workplace to key business outcomes. 

For 2019 I see a further development of this same theme. I also wish to express a hope: that we see core business leaders breaking out of their focus on short-term results to think ahead and reinvent the work they do and how that work is best done. This will create a much more fertile environment in which to introduce many other disciplines that have a contribution to offer. They just need to be asked."

Chris Hood, Director at Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA)

Trend 3: Agile solutions

kate-lister-workplace-trends-2019"Economic and political uncertainty will heavily influence business strategies. Expect companies to be wary of long-term commitments to people, places, and things. Contract and project-based work will be favored over employees in all but the most competitive positions. Organizations will favor pay-as-you-go strategies over long-term lease commitments.

Industries laden with legacy technologies will desperately seek holistic solutions to their complex problems.  Organizational leaders will push for cross-functional cooperation and solutions."

Kate Lister, President, Global Workplace Analytics  

Trend 4: Better tenant experience

maciej-markowski-workplace-trends-2019"‘Tenant Experience’ will become the 2019 phrase of the year. Both with great technology (managing visitors, using your phone to open doors, report issues, booking spaces or ordering food from the cafeteria) and concierge-like service.

The times when an office building landlord wouldn't contact, help and understand the behavior of their tenants (actual people, not companies) are coming to an end. Coworking is driving this trend—the expectations of tenants have been raised, and a better tenant experience is the new name of the game."

Maciej Markowski, CEO, spaceOS 

Trend 5: Culture is the key

kati-barklund"Most of our organizations today truly need workplace transformation to stay competitive. Unfortunately many of the transformations fail to deliver target impact, mostly because we fail to change our leaders’ and employees’ behavior. We can have the most perfectly fit physical and/or digital workplace, but we won’t realize the value of it, unless we change our behavior accordingly.

Culture is the key.

I really believe that this is the year organizations will start investing and focusing more on culture as the enabler for the workplace transformation."

 Kati Barklund, Senior Manager, Workplace Strategy, Tenant & Partner 

Trend 6: Divergent Creativity/Co-creation

kay-sargent-workplace-trends-2019"As we shift away from incremental productivity,’ where it’s about things faster, better, and cheaper, a new model is emerging—divergent creativity. It leverages ideation and co-creation to drive game-changing creations that break through boundaries. 

The sage on the stage empowered by PowerPoint is replaced with the democratization of meeting where everyone is able to contribute, leading to inclusive ideation and speed to innovation. Often Agile spaces, that’s Agile with a capital A, are designed to support the Agile Methodology. Agile organizations strive to be dynamic and responsive, hence their space should be as well."

Kay Sargent, Senior Principal - Director of WorkPlace, HOK

Trend 7: End of one size fits all

james-ware-workplace-trends-2019"While technology continues to enable massive opportunities for advancement, human nature and human habits evolve much more slowly. We learn to take advantage of these powerful technologies only when they truly make things better, easier, faster, and cheaper.

I foresee a return to basics as we focus primarily on making our workplaces more comfortable with cleaner air, more natural lighting, more effective sound masking, and much more personalization. My preferences for temperature, lighting, sound, and smell are (appropriately) different from yours; 2019 will be a year of mass customization in workplace design—the end of one size fits all. And both our productivity and our personal satisfaction will rise as a result.

 James P. Ware, PhD, Managing Editor, Work&Place, and author, Making Meetings Matter

Trend 8: Wellness

william-poole-wilson-workplace-trends-2019"In 2018, wellness became top of the Occupiers agenda.  The evidence demonstrating that the built environment has a direct effect on both the physical health and mental well-being of occupants has been proven. 

2019 is the year it becomes essential to have a Wellness strategy. It’s worth investing in workplace environments that enhance health and well-being to improve business outcomes."

Will Poole-Wilson, Managing Director, Will+Partners, co-author BCO Wellness Matters 2018


Trend 9: Smart Occupancy


"Connected and mobile, employees will continue to adopt new ways of working. Companies need to adapt. 94% of millennials don't want to work at a classic offices. As this trend accelerates we see wasted workspaces with empty spaces more than 50% of the time.

We will see smart occupancy as an emerging trend in 2019. Offers such as the deployment and maintenance of thousands of sensors no longer live up to customers' expectations. The market requires accurate data collection from sensors and systems already in place within the building to deliver building and workspace intelligence for the employees’ benefit."


Fabien Girerd, CEO & Founder, Jooxter

Trend 10: Integrated workplace


"2018 was marked by the rise of PropTech and it seems that the market is finally waking up to workplace digitalization. WeWork’s acquisition of meeting room management and SaaS company Teem shows that beautiful workplace environments are not enough; state-of-the-art technology must also be part of a modern office.

PropTech startups have started innovating the workplace with unprecedented solutions for visitor management, meeting room management, employee apps, indoor navigation, IoT, and access control, to name a few. I predict in 2019, we'll see the best-of-breed startups integrating their offerings with each other to deliver a truly modern workplace.

Gregory Blondeau, Managing Director & Founder of Proxyclick


Thank you, once again, to the workplace experts who continue to keep this conversation going. We encourage everyone to "think big" about the future of workplace trends.

(Fast forward to our 2020 predictions.)



Like this article? Spread the word.