Businesses were forced to embrace a lot of changes last year, and the office environment is a direct reflection of that. Going forward, the ‘why’ of work will be essential to a successful workplace. In 2021 and beyond, workplaces will need to focus on unity and community with both employers and employees reminded of the end goal, which, in turn, will allow organizations to thrive.
Moving forward we will start to see that companies will begin offering their employees multiple ways of working to choose from:
- Regular office-based workers who are in the office at least three times a week with an assigned workspace/desk
- Flexible workers who go into the office once or twice a week and work at designated or reservable workspace/desk
- Remote workers who visit one of several, centrally located office hubs a few times a year
With social distancing restrictions loosening and employees returning to work, many office spaces have been subject to re-configurations to ensure the safety, functionality, and well-being of their employees. Below we have highlighted some of collective changes you can anticipate as we continue transitioning back to the office environment – all working collectively to foster the 3 C’s: Collaboration, Connectivity and Community.
Community-Centered Office Design
Creating a sense of community in traditional offices by introducing Resimercial (residential meets commercial) design trends or incorporating meeting spaces and bars and lounges had been trending even before the pandemic. These will continue to play well in larger spaces, as they offer a place where employees from different departments can safely co-mingle. It is also worth noting that according to JLL human performance research, 89% of employees think of their colleagues as a second family, so creating these types of spaces will help to boost morale.
Office as Experience
The biggest question facing employers and on everyone’s mind right now is whether employees will actually want to go back to the office full-time once the pandemic slows down? The fact of the matter is that in some cases, the answer will still be no.
From a hiring and talent retainment perspective, employees will start to prioritize flexible working first. The space itself should be designed in such a way as to really encourage employees working flexible hours to want to spend more time in the office. And for those working full time from the office each day, it should provide the same comforts and benefits as the home environment they worked from for most of 2020.
While some businesses are open to the idea of flexible working, we are finding that others are not and once the vaccine is widely available and the pandemic slows down, they want their entire staff back in the office Monday-Friday, like they were pre-pandemic.
Regardless of your company’s preference, the best way to keep employees happy, healthy, and secure is to make working in the office a pleasant and enjoyable experience. To do so, you can offer things such as – complimentary coffee and healthy snacks; implement new wellness initiatives like yoga and gym memberships; incorporate more Resimercial elements like lounges and comfortable furniture; more green spaces; exercise, meditation areas, and even game/leisure spaces.
Technology & Connectivity
As remote working appears to be part of the long-term plan for at least of handful of employees, spaces will need to be configured to streamline and optimize digital communications between those in the office and those working from home or remotely. For those in the office, it can be quite very disruptive when a colleague jumps onto a Zoom or Teams call on their laptop, so setting up a dedicated videoconferencing room can solve this issue. Not only will it enable private conversations and meetings to take place it will also provide confidentially can also function as an additional breakout room for your team. You can also anticipate seeing new technology to facilitate videoconferencing such as larger screens, movable webcams and bluetooth and voice-enabled speakers. If you happen to currently have furniture systems in your space with integrated power, then you’re already one step ahead of the game.
The Positive Effects of the Pandemic on the Office Interiors & Design Industry
The trends which we have highlighted here point towards a future where Collaboration, Connectivity and Community will be the centerpiece of future office design. Sustainability will also be a focal point and sourcing sustainable furniture, fixtures & equipment (FF&E) will help to lower organization’s carbon footprint and benefit the environment in the process.
By remaining agile and providing flexibility and choice to your employees you will increase productivity, improve unity and connectedness as well as the overall happiness and morale of your team. The cultural benefits of becoming ‘flex-able’ going forward may not be a current line item on your P&L statement, but don’t be surprised if that changes in the future.
With all of this considered, the office of tomorrow will be an innovative and inspiring place, and if you start to incrementally make positive changes to your space now, your team will be eager to return to the office in droves!
Contact Wurkwel here.