It may seem difficult to comprehend, but the human race is going to survive well into 2021, and beyond. As we progress into the new year, we can expect a lot of key office design trends to take root, some of which have been influenced greatly by the events of 2020. It’s far from doom and gloom. In fact, a lot of these trends are relatively normal in their own right, and may help foster a better, more productive workplace at the same time. Let’s examine a few.
#1) Open Space Acoustics
One of the main gripes regarding the controversial open space office layout is the level of distraction, mostly from background noise. Indeed, this is easy to understand, especially when one considers the sheer amount of foot traffic, conversations and other noise-related distractions such as keyboards. While there are practical solutions to many of these problems, the issue of noise pollution won’t go away on its own.
Companies are now looking at sound-absorbing acoustic panels as a method of cutting down the amount of noise in the workplace. After all, this solution has worked wonders in music studios and other workspaces where sound is an issue. Sound absorption isn’t limited to panels, either. Some companies are now offering sound-cancelling office furniture, such as mobile office enclosures that can drown out background noise without forcing employees out of the room. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a step in the right direction towards what will eventually be (technology willing) a pitch-perfect auditory workspace.
#2) Remote Offices
One of the biggest misconceptions of remote work is the notion that it became a thing due to the global pandemic. In truth, remote work has been steadily gaining popularity and ground for years leading up to 2020. While many companies were initially skeptical (and resistant) to the idea of allowing workers to remote in from their home offices, studies have now shown that many employees are far more productive in such an environment. It also helps many achieve a much better work/life balance, which translates directly into greater enthusiasm and productivity.
There will always be employees who thrive on being in the office and interacting with their peers, which means the traditional office won’t be going away anytime soon. What we will see is a greater shift towards multiple work styles, including the option to remote in and coordinate with the baseline team. This brings us to our next trend.
#3) Hybrid Workspaces
The work-from-home proposition has had a direct influence on the traditional office environment, even if companies don’t fully realize it. Trading in a stuffy corporate atmosphere for a more relaxed at-home feel is one of the major attractions for new talent. Indeed, studies have shown that today’s employees feel far more productive in an environment that feels laid back, relaxed and familiar.
The emphasis is on the informal, where employees can feel as if they’re hanging out at a friend’s condominium. This relaxed state improves employee morale and drives up enthusiasm to make the most out of the day. The HR managers of tomorrow will need to factor this trend in when seeking out diverse new talent. It’s no longer just about numbers on a cheque.
#4) The Environment
Regardless of where you sit on the climate change debate, most people agree that being environmentally conscious is a good thing, all-around. This isn’t just reflected in being environmentally responsible, either. It also involves embracing nature within the workspace.
Biophilic design continues to make strong inroads into company offices, and the data backs it up. The use of green colours, plants and even real moss on walls can inspire, relax and lift the spirits of employees, making them far more enthusiastic and positive. Data shows that employee use of sick days is cut down dramatically, and tensions within the workplace start to ebb. All of this is good news, and it will only pick up steam in an age where environmentally conscious workspaces are starting to become a priority on a company’s checklist.
#5) Leisure Zones
This trend will undoubtedly pick up massive steam going into 2021, thanks in large part to the psychological effects of the global pandemic. The world is still reeling from its economic and health effects, but our social well-being has taken perhaps the hardest hit of all. As people cautiously head back outdoors and try to enjoy themselves under the threat of a vastly reduced, but still relevant virus, all eyes will soon turn towards a normalized workplace. Expect to see companies luring their employees back to work with leisure zones designed to take the edge off, and foster some good old-fashioned fun.
Whether it’s a stylish break room stocked with premium coffee brands, a music space to jam out with friends, or a few rounds of 8 Ball, the offices of 2021 will attempt to add a healing factor into the workplace. This is good not just for a company’s bottom line, but for those who have been through more than any of us can bear.
If you’re ready to start planning out your office space for 2021, reach out and contact us today! We’re interested to hear your ideas so that we can transform your office into a space that is sure to be a hit with your employees, and your customers!