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Relaxing at Home

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  • Writer's pictureLynsey Woods

Return To Office & The Importance Of Effective Workplace Design

As we venture onto the better side of the Covid curve (finally), many organisations share a similar business challenge when it comes to their physical place of work – how do we get our people back to the office, what is the purpose of the office, and what environment do our people want?

The solution? Reimagining the workplace experience.

While company policies and practices are being looked at, so too should office design as chances are what you had before will no longer take you forward.

Where to start? With us. We are experts in workplace strategy, spatial planning, and commercial design, we love what we do, and we have plenty of ideas (just ask us!) – give us a call today to chat about your future.

In the meantime, here’s something we prepared earlier when it comes to getting your people back to the office, the evolution of office design, and the areas of focus, let us know what you think!

Office Is Where The Heart Is

The heart and soul of the people and a company that is. Anecdotally, office comradery was one of the biggest things missed during lock down; however, it’s no longer good enough to simply have a desk and chair, businesses need to offer a compelling reason(s) for people to give up the comfort of working from home, and the answer is simple = culture.

Creating a sense of community, a place for social connection and a comfortable environment will enable the workplace culture to thrive and offer people a place they want to be (it’s also a great recruitment tool!). In addition to company initiatives, smart office design plays an integral role in the renewed workplace experience, for example:

  • An open planned kitchen with complimentary coffees and snacks

  • Branding to reinforce and reconnect with the company vision and values

  • Flexible furnishings to promote connection and the office ‘vibe’

  • Breakout areas for cross functional collaboration and informal chats

What changes would you make to your existing office?

People First, Always

The one size fits all approach is officially dead. The priority is shifting from efficiency to happiness as businesses are now opting for an array of work settings to support the needs of their people, with purpose, functionality and comfort influencing the design direction, as happy employees = good business (hello bottom line).

Getting it right requires data and an investment of time to understand how your workplace is being used and what people expect from the office; we recommend speaking to a workplace design expert to chat through options and how to get started, and lucky for us, you’ve come to the right place!

Hybrid All The Way

A recent study by CNBC showed 70% of professionals, globally, now work at least one day a week remotely, and 53% work remotely for at least half the week; therefore, organisations need to accept (if they haven’t already) that a full office is highly unlikely. Due diligence is required to understand each hybrid arrangement and how this impacts the office infrastructure, for example:

  • Occupancy rate assessment – a reduction, increase or reconfiguration of an office space starts with understanding the office attendance across the week

  • Seating – offering a blend of benches, booths and small clusters of desks can accommodate individual working preferences and a fluctuating head count

  • Technology – introduction of room and desk booking systems, universal docking stations, data storage and noise cancellation options means employees can come and go knowing they can easily plug in

  • Connectivity – easy to use and accessible platforms to communicate with colleagues at any given moment is imperative. Dedicated meeting rooms and quiet spaces equipped with easy-to-use video capability will be required to seamlessly integrate remote employees into conversations

Inclusive Design

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is now high on the priority list when designing a space for the future workforce. Employees are demanding an environment where they can be seen and heard, hierarchical barriers and escalation don't exist, and with greater control over their physical workplace.

Inclusive design, simply put, is about creating a space that works well for all people, and this includes choice, flexibility, and accessibility to benefit everyone. To ensure success, we recommend including your staff in the decision-making process as you’ll create an environment that’s been built on trust and by the people, for the people.

The Green Office

As the world moves to become more sustainable to address the climate crisis; businesses are now embracing the shift towards sustainable design and procurement processes to make their offices greener; with sustainability now playing a role in the acquisition and retention of staff.

Offices are going beyond the traditional recycling bin and opting for eco-friendly furniture, insulation, smart lighting systems and reusable materials (and more) to reduce their carbon footprint. In addition to doing your bit for the planet, the physical and psychological benefits have also been proven, so it’s a win-win if you ask us.

This process starts with setting your sustainability goals in the early stages of your project and incorporating into your office design – we can help with that, let’s get started!

STAR Commercial Construction Project - greenery

Health & Wellness Focussed

It’s easy to understand why the corporate world is investing in the health and wellbeing of their staff, however, the impact the office design can have in this space hasn’t reached its full potential.

Ergonomics, air quality, natural light, meditation rooms, biophilia, shower facilities, and repositioning of stairwells (for example) can have a positive effect on health, wellbeing, employee satisfaction, and performance. If businesses are serious about health and wellness, there’s huge potential to infuse a culture of health into the workplace via office design – in fact, I’m writing this from our very own quiet room.

The takeaway here? Intelligent office design is a powerful tool to support the future of work, foster a positive culture and reinvigorate company values. What does your future office look like? Let's get started today!

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