Every two years, the office and facilities management sector comes together in Cologne for Orgatec, the industry’s influential trade fair. The exhibition is a perfect environment to browse the latest offerings in furniture, storage, flooring, acoustics, lighting and technology. This year 624 companies from 41 countries presented their solutions for the modern working environment. Here is our pick of the six top trends for the modern workplace at the 2014 exhibition. 

The latest office trends: Flexibility, Acoustics, Private pods, informal meeting spaces, storage and pastel shades.

Trend 1: Flexibility and mobility
Mobile furniture was a big trend at this year’s Orgatec, showcasing systems that are flexible enough to meet the demands of modern office environments. The trick? Furniture that functions in both collective workspaces and cosy retreats. Mobile and height-adjustable furniture, including chairs, desks and storage adapted to fit a given space, designed to meet a range of different tasks.

Flexibility extended beyond the confines of the office with a number of companies demonstrating solutions to encourage working from or near your vehicle. Cars and minivans were fitted out with an array of gadgets, including coffee machines, video screens and even a DJ booth.

Trend 2: Acoustics
Acoustic pollution has been a big issue for office workers since the advent of the open-plan workplace. Orgatec was awash with panels, partitions, lamps and flooring, offering varying levels of acoustic control and dampening. The trend was towards softer materials, integrated into seating and furniture – or as stand-alone panels and decorative elements.

Trend 3: Private pods
Individual, personal workplaces to make calls, have a one-to-one, or carry out concentrated, distraction-free work. These spaces share a desire to add an element of privacy: just don’t call them cubicles!

Trend 4: Informal meeting spaces
There was big push towards creating comfortable and welcoming environments for group meetings. Heavily influenced by domestic interior design, the subtext of this trend is that offices in the future will be less sterile, with briefings taking place around the equivalent of the kitchen table, rather than the boardroom conference table.

Trend 5: Personal storage
With an increasing percentage of office footplate given over to shared and collective spaces, storage of personal items has become a problem to be solved. To meet the needs of a clean desk policy, a range of lockers, wardrobes and furniture for personal items were on display, ranging from dramatic, candy-coloured racks and coat stands to storage boxes that disappear into room partitions.

Trend 6: Pastel shades
The familiar workplace palette of whites, browns and greys was augmented this year by a welcome burst of pastel shades – powder blue, pale jade and dusky pinks splashed across chairs, storage boxes and partitions.