There’s been a shift in the way businesses use their offices over the last 18 months, shaping office trends for 2022.
Many businesses are now opting for a more permanent hybrid working environment. The office design post-COVID has certainly changed. So what can be expected from the office environment, and what will this mean for companies?
In 2022, office design, the flow of people moving about the office and its functionality are at the top the priority list. With a focus on environmental impact and creating flexible, hybrid working environments, businesses are adapting to a new working format. A pleasant office space increases productivity, boosts staff morale and makes an impression on visitors to your place of business.
Biophilic offices are proving popular as they provide a link to nature. Nature friendly offices are becoming highly sought after by leading office designers as they create optimal working environments allowing occupants to work more. They have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, productivity, and morale for all who use the office space.
Hybrid Working Environment
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, around 70% of companies will incorporate a hybrid working environment. Office trends will see a shift to create more varied spaces to work in. This includes more than just the normal banks of desks or office and meeting room space.
The hybrid office design supports staff working both in and out of the office environment. They need to quickly access the information and speak to the rest of the team easily. The post-pandemic workplace needs to be far more flexible.
The key is organising offices so they are optimized for staff productivity and efficiency. Different business types require various layout ideas. Some require a central meeting hub. Others will require staff to be in full time when it is not possible for them to work from home. In this case the traditional desk spaces will continue to be required.
Staff have got used to working from home over the last 18 months. It has become apparent the hybrid working environment is not a passing trend. Staff want more comfortable furnishings in the office and separate areas they can work in a quieter environment. They are requesting freedom of movement in the office rather than being chained to a desk, depending on the work they are doing.
Many businesses may find they are rarely at full capacity anymore as more people work from home at least some of the time. This has freed up space in the office for meeting areas and staff amusements like a games area or a table tennis table.
It has become more important for hybrid working environments to be a central meeting hub for employees and customers.
Bring Nature Into The Office
According to the EMEA, offices which incorporate natural elements report a 13% higher level of well-being than offices that don’t. More businesses are looking to incorporate biophilic (or green) walls, planter storage units or potted plants to incorporate the outside on the inside.
Living plants incorporated into offices will help increase oxygen levels, decrease fatigue and improve concentration levels. This will help boost productivity whether at home or in the office.
Wooden slatted walls or area dividers are great for creating separation between departments or work/meeting spaces. They look aesthetically pleasing and create a more natural feel. Alternatively, go a step further and incorporate tree trunks for a unique partition wall.
The Sustainable Smart Office
Businesses are looking at the different ways they can become more environmentally friendly and reduce their carbon footprint. This is because of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties 26th meeting (COP26) being held in 2021.
As a country, we need to make big changes now so in 2030 we will start to see the effects of our efforts. The majority of consumers look for businesses which pay attention to the environmental and social impact they have on the world.
Making changes to your corporate fleet, recycling more and minimizing business travel are great places to start looking to make a change. But many businesses are also looking to create a smarter office environment which reduces energy consumption.
The last couple of years have pushed emerging trends into hyperdrive. What would normally have taken five to 10 years to become the norm in office design, has been forced to happen overnight. Many companies don’t want to go back to what can now potentially feel like the Stone Age.
A smart office incorporates the best management tools to help staff work better, faster and happier.
Using light sensors, installing automatic doors, using automatic bathroom facilities like flushes, taps and hand dryers is a great cost and energy saving tactic. It also helps reduce the number of touch points in a shared environment.
You can even install intelligent climate controls now which detect preferences, usage patterns and regulate the temperate automatically. This could potentially end staff disagreements over whether the office is too hot or too cold.
This has helped staff feel more confident in the work environment. It includes the extra benefit of creating a more efficient and environmentally friendly workspace, saving money on electricity and water. It’s a win-win situation.
The government is looking at ways to incentivize businesses to use renewable energy. We have found many businesses installing solar panels on roofs which can significantly reduce bills and provides energy for your business.
Office Design for Staff Wellbeing
Office design has changed to incorporate more space between desks to accommodate social distancing. Perspex screens, also known as COVID screens, have become standard fittings in offices that continue to utilize an open plan environment.
Alternatively, where offices have more space, the cellular office design is being brought back into fashion. This limits the spread of germs and has proven to reduce absence due to sickness by up to a quarter. It promotes productivity thanks to a quieter environment. Fewer distractions and additional privacy are also a benefit. Cellular offices can be tailored to each team or department’s requirements.
Glass partition walls provide a good view of the full office and still allow for maximum natural light to penetrate throughout.
The full article written by APASS for Business Link, East midlands is available here