It felt like it would never come, but here we are. COVID restrictions have been lifted, so offices are opening back up. But most employees aren’t satisfied returning to the same office they left. This puts businesses in a unique position: right now, there is an excellent opportunity to improve employee experience in the workplace by designing things differently. Business owners recognize this opportunity and, as a result, office design has transformed. In this blog, we go over the changes in how, when, and where work gets done in 2022.
Flexibility at Work—Hybrid Workspaces
Before COVID, most employees spent their entire 40-hour workweek in the office. But when the world shut down, and staff had to work from home, businesses saw that staff were effective and productive from home. This has resulted in a lot more flexibility at the office, and as such, hybrid working is more sought after than ever.
The hybrid work model mixes in-office and remote work to give employees flexibility. In the last couple of years, this model has ballooned in popularity, and many offices now offer this as a perk to their employees. The hybrid work model promotes a better work-life balance, which increases productivity, engagement, and retention.
If your office is interested in supporting the hybrid work model, one way to maximize your space would be to designate areas for hot-desking and hoteling stations:
- Hot-desking: This workstation layout is like a time-share, where multiple people use the same house, just at different times throughout the year. For example, if your employees work from home and in the office, hot-desking might be the solution you need. This is a concept where no one has a designated workstation, but rather, employees will choose an open desk to work at for the day or portion thereof.
- Hoteling: Much like reserving a hotel room when you go on vacation, hoteling at work means you reserve, in advance, a cubicle, desk, or other workstation. For example, if employees know they will be in virtual meetings that day, they can reserve a private room. Or, if they know they will need to collaborate and brainstorm, they can book a desk in a more open area where idea generation occurs.
Create Spaces that Feel Like Home
When employees started working from home, they had the luxury of creating their own workspace. They could work where they felt most comfortable, wear sweatpants during virtually held meetings, and surround themselves with homey items that made them feel relaxed and motivated. Employees enjoy these benefits, so do your best to transfer some of them to the office.
Don’t shy away from decorating with wall paint, wall art, and cozy and comfortable furniture in quiet spaces throughout the office. As the Small Business Chronicle states: “A workplace culture in which people have a relaxed, friendly attitude toward one another typically raises productivity. Employees spend less time feeling stressed about social interactions and handling conflicts, and more time collaborating and working effectively.”
Historically, many offices have been stark and lacked personality. Designers are now focused on creating spaces that are an oasis for relaxation. As a result, employees are more productive, and their work is of higher quality.
Re-design the Kitchen
Just because work doesn’t get done in the kitchen doesn’t mean it is not a vital space: office kitchens that are stocked up and well-designed report having happier employees. And kitchens are for more than just eating and hydrating. Employees go to the kitchen to get a break from their screens, unwind, and connect with co-workers.
If you really want a kitchen your staff will love, follow these 2022 design trends:
- Add floating wall shelves and countertops to save space and modernize the room.
- Splurge on a fancy water cooler and coffee maker that can withstand a lot of use: durability is important because staff will constantly be using them.
- Have one long table that multiple people can sit around.
- Provide a smaller table for more private conversations.
- Don’t forget to designate someone to oversee coffee, cream, and snack refills!
You want your kitchen’s layout to be accessible, welcoming, and a place where employees feel comfortable. If designed correctly, your office kitchen will boost energy and morale and encourage everyone to get to know one another better.
Inclusivity in the Office
At any given time, one in five Canadians is dealing with a mental illness. To add to that, one in seven people has a neurodivergent condition (e.g., dyslexia, ADHD, autism). No one in any workplace must disclose their mental illness or neurodivergent condition, and most don’t. However, creating inclusive spaces and allowing employees to choose the environment they want to work in depending on their current psychological needs benefits everyone.
Design your office spaces in ways that promote well-being:
- Live plants are a great addition to any office. Studies show that live greenery invigorates the mind, wards off stress, helps with memory, and improves overall well-being. And if you’re someone who can’t keep plants alive, don’t worry: artificial plants are a great alternative! They improve mood, morale, productivity, and focus.
- Give employees as much access to natural light as possible. Natural light is a great way to stay alert, motivated, and focused. A recent study at Cornell showed workers exposed to natural light experienced an 84% drop in issues like headaches, eyestrain, and blurred vision.
- Don’t be afraid to add colour—it will help create a well-balanced environment for your staff.
- Green helps with increasing relaxation.
- Blue is especially beneficial for stress management and concentration.
- Violet is known to invigorate the mind and help with idea generation.
- Install hush pods throughout your office to designate specific spaces as quiet working zones. When your employees need to finish a project, take a meeting, or quiet their minds, they will appreciate having a peaceful and tranquil environment they can retreat to.
By designing office spaces with inclusivity in mind, your efforts in hiring and retaining employees will become more effective.
Look to the Future
Office design trends in 2022 are a definite upgrade from what we’ve seen in years past. The COVID pandemic triggered a social shift that has impacted workplaces, and as employers, we need to anticipate that change to attract and retain talent in our teams. Truspace has a breadth of expertise in creating post-COVID workspaces and hybrid-designed offices. Contact us to discuss your unique office needs.
For more information on hybrid workspaces, check out these blogs:
How Hybrid Office Design Helps High Performing Teams: https://truspace.ca/blog/how-hybrid-office-design-helps-high-performing-teams/
How To Attract Top Talent Through Hybrid Design: https://truspace.ca/blog/how-hybrid-office-design-can-help-your-company-attract-top-talent/
How to Design Your Hybrid Office: https://truspace.ca/blog/how-to-design-your-hybrid-office/
To learn more about this blog’s topic, see the following reference materials we used in creating this article:
How flexible work technology can transform your reopened office: https://www.citrix.com/fieldwork/employee-experience/reopened-office.html
Disability in Canada: Facts and Figures: https://easterseals.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Disability-in-Canada-Facts-Figures.pdf
Do Relaxed Working Environments Lower Productivity?: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/relaxed-working-environments-lower-productivity-10296.html
The Impact of Color on Our Well-Being: https://www.shondaland.com/live/body/a33463636/the-impact-of-color-on-our-well-being/
Returning to the Office and Adjusting to the New Normal: https://truspace.ca/blog/returning-to-the-office-and-adjusting-to-the-new-normal/
Top Interior Design Trends for the 2022 Classroom: https://cdispaces.ca/top-interior-design-trends-for-the-2022-classroom