Much has been said about our changing work patterns. Recent stats suggest that 40 per cent of UK employers now operate a hybrid working pattern, and that figure is expected to grow as workforces vote with their feet for flexibility. Here, we talk about the latest office design trends.
So, a new status quo is in full flow, and it stands to reason that many businesses are shaking up their office spaces. A high proportion of any business’s staff are likely to have experienced and enjoyed many elements of working from home. Far from being the default location it once was, the new office must now be commute-worthy.
Over recent years, we’ve delivered numerous exciting and cutting-edge office renovations. A variety of themes have run throughout these projects, giving us a strong idea of where the future of the office lies.
Wellness at work
The mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of employees is high on the agenda for businesses leading from the front. But how does this play into office design?
We’ve seen multiple concepts designed to boost wellbeing at work incorporated into recent office fit outs. Consider the proliferation of greenery in the workplace. Plants are proven to contribute to a calming environment, while also improving air quality. Studies show that offices with greenery see fewer sickness-related absences than those without. In our recent projects, bespoke planters have allowed foliage to claim a permanent home in office schemes, as central elements of the design.
Meanwhile, features such as sit-stand desks, carefully considered placement of monitors and other equipment, and even meditation rooms are finding a place in the modern office, all contributing to employee wellbeing.
Offices are louder than homes. With more people, more phone calls, more networking, more collaboration, and more socialising, volume can quickly reach unpleasant levels. With many of us also accustomed to home working several days a week, sensitivity to these loud volumes is particularly high, creating a problem.
In our recent renovations, management of office acoustics has been critical. Quiet rooms have helped to portion off areas for any staff in need of a completely quiet space, while booth seating can lessen volume levels in shared spaces. In both areas, the installation of acoustic panelling absorbs noise, creating a calmer, more enjoyable atmosphere that’s conducive to wellbeing and productivity, without inhibiting collaboration and community.
Fostering community and the benefits of togetherness
The key benefit of commuting to the office is interaction with colleagues. How, then, can office design support this?
While quiet rooms are helpful for moments of respite, the majority of office workspace is shared. We are increasingly asked to design and install bespoke desks, crafted to be inviting – rather than intimidating – and to slot into organically designed office spaces, blending booths, bench desks, meeting tables and sit-stand desks. Movement throughout the space should be free-flowing, with further communal zones found in kitchens and break-out areas.
Bleacher seating has become a mainstay of new office design. Not only does it provide a sociable space for informal conversation, but it provides an area where a whole office can gather for training, meetings, and presentations. As businesses increasingly look to downsize their floor plates, these convening spaces replace individual desks when full attendance is required.
Movable divisions, meanwhile, bring ultimate flexibility, changing a 1-2-1 meeting room to an open collaboration zone in moments.
Boring is not acceptable. Whether vibrant and bold, or muted and calming, an office must have personality. An environment of blank walls, sterile desks, and strip lighting is not commute-worthy.
Texture – whether through softer, comfortable seating areas, wall art, or installations – creates an inviting, homely, three-dimensional space, as opposed to flat, boring, unappealing rooms. We’re seeing a lot of clients utilise slatted wall panels to bring texture into their design. Natural wooden slatted panels also ground a space, with organic textures and muted tones bringing calm.
Creating an office space that makes workers feel comfortable – physically, socially and emotionally – as well as empowered, is an art form. With expectations on the rise among the British workforce, getting it wrong can spell disaster.
For more information about office renovations and bespoke joinery, or to discuss a project with us, contact JSJ UK on 01772 827173 or visit our website at jsjuk.co.