Green Office Solutions

Office Design Trends for 2018

As business evolves, so does style. At Environments, our office design consultants focus on staying ahead of trends and looking for the next emerging ones. These are just some of our observations for design trends you might see more of in 2018.

Unique & Unconventional Areas: First spearheaded by tech companies like Google, this trend has been adopted by millennials with their preference for fun, open spaces. These areas lend to collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking. Plus, they're easy to create; no rules really apply, because it's here where business casual meets very casual. The area can be a living room, meditation space, edgy conference room, or simply a space for sofas and bean bag chairs with a twist of vibrant color. Add some fun on-break activities like a ping-pong table or putting green, and you'll have a hip environment to help attract fun, energetic young talent.

Biophilic Design: Biophilic design seeks to express through architecture and workplace design our innate connection with nature and outdoor natural elements. Because people spend roughly 90% of their time indoors, this trend to incorporate natural, outdoor-like elements into the workday is continually on the rise. Biophilic design trends have been a common theme for so many years that they are now considered best practices for building engineers, architects, and interior designers. Institutions are also engaged with this philosophy using WELL Building Standards and LEED certifications.

Biophilic design is not simply about adding a few plants to your office; it actually uses nature itself as the architectural framework by weaving it into building textures and patterns, and embracing the use of natural lighting and live plants. This trend is even more popular in areas where nature is less present, such as large cities or densely-populated campuses.

Homestyle Design: The growing use of homestyle design is another signal that employers have become increasingly sensitive to the comfort and well-being of their teams during the workday. The objective is to create offices and spaces that feel “closer to home” and help employees enjoy their time spent in the office. Homestyle design can be a hybrid of entertainment, style, and necessity. In addition to "homey" furniture and accessories, elements can include:

  • On-site cafés
  • Food trucks
  • Small bars with stools
  • Beer fridges
  • Fireplaces
  • Showers
  • Gaming (foosball, video games, pool tables, etc.)

These design elements can transform the workplace into an oasis of family-like comfort. Like other current design trends, the approach is popular with millennials and the up-and-coming workforce.

Stay tuned for additional trends to watch in 2018!


Sound Masking Systems for Any Office

Sound masking is a very simple fix for a common office need: privacy. As they say, what you don't know can't hurt you - and this certainly applies in the workplace where an overheard conversation can be potentially damaging.


What is sound masking and why is it important?

Sound masking is the process of creating background noise that inhibits the ability of others to overhear conversations. It also deters noise and helps to reduce unwanted distractions. Sound masking is acoustically engineered to match the frequency of human speech, making its privacy very effective.

How does it work?

Believe it or not, when you add certain types of sound to a space, it makes the space seem quieter. It's somewhat counter-intuitive, but the added sound-masking raises the ambient noise level and thus reduces the audibility of our speech to others. When you cannot make out what someone is saying, your brain subconsciously ignores the speech and the sound ceases to be a distraction.


What does it sound like?

If configured correctly, sound masking is relatively unnoticeable and sounds like gentle airflow.  It is designed and engineered to blend into the background of your workspace and contribute to overall working ambiance. Contrary to a common misconception, sound masking should not be mistaken for “white noise” which, when amplified, is unpleasant to listen to - similar to a non-working radio station playing nothing but static.

Want to try out a demo sound masking system? Contact us for more information!




Office Furniture Project in Denver

Office Lighting & Design

Offices often become our home away from home, where we spend, on average, a third of our lifespan. Why not let our biggest mood enhancer be an important element of your next office design? The importance of office lighting is often overlooked, so when planning your next office furniture & design project, take serious consideration of this crucial element. By following some of the professional design tips below, a dull, uninspiring environment can be transformed into a shiny, happy, productive workplace.

Directly Indirect

Overhead lights can cause glare and shadowing, which can become a major distraction and subconscious frustration for workers. Instead, find ways to diffuse ambient light that will in turn illuminate your office space. If using local lighting, lamp shades are useful because they soften & scatter harsher light. The same effect can be accomplished with an upward-shining floor lamp that reflects light off the walls and ceilings. The objective here is illuminate your entire space without creating undue glare and shadows.  LED technology is becoming increasingly popular for this task, and with its highly efficient lifespan and low operating costs, LED lighting is an excellent choice.

Throw and Show your Light

espresso executive office desk

Typically, offices are built and designed to use standard, direct lighting, which is mostly fluorescent.  Without any additional creativity, this lighting can make a space look flat and lifeless, which affects the well-being of workers. Try "throwing light”, or directing light onto walls, ceilings, and fixtures in order to create a sense of movement or motion. This effect will also make the room appear larger, brighter, and more vibrant. Use lighting to emphasize your company logo, wall art, pedestals, and other fixtures with an individual touch that will make that piece stand out, while also providing ambient light.

Natural Light

glass top cubicles

Take advantage of as much natural light as possible from windows, skylights or other portals. Sunlight produces the warmest lighting possible, but be sure to account for areas that might create overwhelming glare or heat during certain times of the day.

Natural light is best staged in front of or next to work surfaces and computer screens to avoid glare.  Take consideration when positioning workstations facing north or south to avoid shadowing during any point in the day.

Personal Lighting

It’s often an overlooked design feature, but personal lighting can add a warm, inviting glow to corner areas or office locations where natural light is lacking. Additionally, personal lighting allows you to cater to individual preferences and empower your staff to have control of their own comfort.

contemporary lobby office furniture

Office Reception Area Decor - Furniture & More

The office reception area is an often overlooked window into the personality and spirit of a company. Among other functions, it can create your potential customer’s first impression. Thus it's crucial to make his or her first impression an excellent one. That first impression will also affect new hires who await their interviews; partners and vendors; and others who have a stake in your organization.

Here are tips for utilizing cohesive décor that creates a “wow” factor:

Reception Area Furniture

In this area especially, it pays to display furniture that is cutting edge, stylish, functional and comfortable. If your reception area doubles as a waiting room, make sure furniture is equipped with built-in power for technology devices, or arrange seating near power outlets that are clearly visible so visitors can fully utilize them.  Be sure to compliment the furniture with art that matches the aesthetic; you can win style and loyalty points by using a local artist and displaying their name and location below the piece.

Extras & Accessories

Even in the reception area, you can show customers and other partners that you value them. Provide thoughtful extras that serve as useful, creative, and inviting. According to business author Seth Godin, "a bowl of M&Ms or some freshly baked cookies can tame a cranky client.” Other hits include pitchers of ice water, a coffee bar, or goodies from a well-known local establishment. Aside from consumables, guests will also appreciate good wi-fi, power/USB outlets, trade magazines, and writing utensils. If your reception area features music or television, be sure to tune into a relevant, demographically-targeted channel or station that your visitors will appreciate. Or, most smart TVs today have USB ports that allow you to post a large, personalized welcome slide for your visitors.


When choosing colors, make sure to create a warm, inviting area that reflects your brand and vision.  If your branding colors are too bold or have negative emotional connotations in larger spaces, reconfigure them as accents and use a more neutral theme. Areas for accent colors include baseboard and wall trim, furniture cushions, and decorative display pieces. Live plants and/or flowers also create a welcoming and soothing environment and can add an additional splash of color to liven up the space.

View our portfolio of past reception area furniture design for more inspiration.


conference bench seating

The Future of Workplace Design

Workplace design has proven to show a slow, gradual shift between trends. Colors, shapes, sizes and appearance have always been tasked with maintaining a cutting edge office. The goal is always to make the work environment inviting and to create areas where employees are empowered to work more productively and increase collaboration. 2017, however, could be the shift from revolution to evolution. Here are a few observations and predictions for what’s to come in our future.

"Generation Z" continues to enter the workforce

Millennials, or “Generation Z” (arguably those who were born between 1994-2010), are completing their educations and beginning their careers. Millennials have been raised with greater access to technology, more so than Gen X or Gen Y; automation has played a much larger role in their lives. Because of this innate understanding, companies are more attracted to millennials as recruits. Therefore, your workplace will become an essential tool for attracting and retaining this generation. How will you fit this mold?

Advancements in Technology

Technology as a whole is on the rise within the workplace. The popularity and efficiency gains from "wearables" and tablets are very useful, and will continue to have an impact on office furniture design. As these products continue to become more advanced themselves (such as the iPad Pro and Windows Surface Pro), they will eventually replace laptops, which have for the most part replaced tower PC’s. This will continually push staffers towards mobility, which changes the landscape (or "deskscape") of employees. How will workstations adapt to these designs? Notably, the technology will free up work surfaces and show less clutter from mouses, keyboards and their cables. Workstations with access to additional power outlets and device outlets (USB, Lightning Ports and Micro USB) and wireless charging are very attractive features for millennials. Try to incorporate some of these modern ideas and products into your next project.

  • Aircharge Wireless Charging


The AirCharge solution enables millennials to power and charge their devices without the hassle of messy cords or cables. Designed to be easily installed in table surfaces, the sleek grommet fits into any standard 80 mm (approx. 3") opening and can be integrated into a variety of spaces offering a convenient way to charge any Qi compatible smartphone or device without the need to carry charging cables or find an available power outlet. A steel mounting plate and screws are included allowing customers the option to secure the grommet in place.

Devices not equipped with the Qi technology, can be adapted to accept a charge from the AirCharge unit by simply placing the AirCharge Wireless Receiver on the grommet and connecting a device to the Wireless Receiver using the connections provided.

  • Seclusion Series with USB and Data Corded Units

seclusion-usb-and-data-2tThe Seclusion Series with USB and Data is a flexible solution that can easily be mounted to the top or bottom of table surfaces. Newly added configurations with the option for additional data  capabilities give users the ability to configure the Seclusion with all the appropriate data or A/V components to meet their individual project requirements. Powerful 2.1A USB ports charge your favorite devices while Tamper Resistant receptacles offer an added level of safety. An optional Seclusion Clamp On Accessory is available for effortless installation eliminating the need to cut or drill holes in the furniture.


Modern Office Furniture & Design Project in Denver

Write Off Your Office Furniture & Design Expense in 2016 with the 179 Deduction

What is the Section 179 Deduction?  Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows any businesses to deduct the entire purchase price of qualifying equipment (see list below) purchased or financed during that tax year. This means that if you purchase (or lease to own) qualifying equipment (such as office furniture), you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income for that given year.

All businesses that purchase, finance, and/or lease less than $2,000,000 in new or used business equipment during tax year 2016 should qualify for the Section 179 Deduction.

Most tangible goods qualify for the Section 179 Deduction. For basic guidelines on what property is covered under the Section 179 tax code, see the short list below, but you can also refer to this list of qualifying equipment from the IRS. Also, to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction, the equipment and/or software purchased or financed must be placed into service between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.

Qualifying Equipment- Please keep in mind that to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction, the equipment listed below must be purchased and put into use between January 1 and December 31 of the tax year you are claiming.

  • Equipment (machines, etc) purchased for business use
  • Tangible personal property used in business
  • Business Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 6,000 lbs (Section 179 Vehicle Deductions)
  • Computers
  • Computer "Off-the-Shelf" Software
  • Office Furniture
  • Office Equipment
  • Property attached to your building that is not a structural component of the building (i.e.: a printing press, large manufacturing tools and equipment)
  • Partial Business Use (equipment that is purchased for business use and personal use: generally, your deduction will be based on the percentage of time you use the equipment for business purposes).

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

How Much Can I Save on My Taxes in 2016?
It depends on the amount of qualifying equipment and software that you purchase and put into use.

When Do I Have to Do This?
Section 179 for 2016 expires midnight, 12/31/2016. If you wish to deduct the full price of your equipment from your 2016 taxes and take advantage of the new higher deduction limits, it must be purchased and put into service by then.

What is Section 179? 

Most people think the Section 179 deduction is some mysterious or complicated tax code. It really isn't, as you will see below.

Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income. It's an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.

Several years ago, Section 179 was often referred to as the "SUV Tax Loophole" or the "Hummer Deduction" because many businesses have used this tax code to write-off the purchase of qualifying vehicles at the time (like SUV's and Hummers). But, that particular benefit of Section 179 has been severely reduced in recent years, see 'Vehicles & Section 179' for current limits on business vehicles.

Today, Section 179 is one of the few incentives included in any of the recent Stimulus Bills that actually helps small businesses. Although large businesses also benefit from Section 179 or Bonus Depreciation, the original target of this legislation was much needed tax relief for small businesses - and millions of small businesses are actually taking action and getting real benefits.