Over the last two plus years, all businesses overcame incredible obstacles that forced them to change where and how they work. A good portion of businesses have decided not to go back into the office allowing employees to work from anywhere with a reliable Internet connection. This has impacted commercial real estate owners who previously could count on companies to lease their spaces for large numbers of employees and thus, affects design trends for work.
Business owners now want spaces that allow those who want to work at the office daily that ability while also allowing teams to come into the office periodically for meetings. We see fewer people returning daily to a specific office space outside their home. Therefore, the space dedicated to employees taking the trip to the office is becoming less of a priority. Instead, we are reimagining what the workplace should be and finding more collaboration spaces are needed. These start with huddle spaces that are good for up to three people to gather about a project. From there, we have small spaces for up to six people, medium spaces for up to 12 and large spaces for groups of more than 12.
Interspersed in these areas are lounge spaces that allow people to get their work done on comfortable furniture. Break spaces include everything from massage chairs to ping pong tables, board and arcade games, and puzzles. For people to leave the comfort of their homes and the spaces they have put together on their own, there must be a draw that makes them want to come into the office. These break spaces do the trick for a lot of the workforce.
All of this creates big implications on interior design. First, designers must understand the culture of the client’s business and how the customer wants to be perceived. This affects everything from the flooring choice to the ceiling lights as we work to express that company’s culture in the design of the space.
So, what’s new and trending for office space design? Here are some great highlights that we want to put into play in upcoming design work for business clients. First is an open floor plan. These floor plans allow for better collaboration and a healthier office environment. More natural light flowing in from outside helps humans with our mood, focus and productivity.
Now that all this fresh light is coming into the space, we want to have some hearty plants brought in along with natural woods and where possible germ-resistant countertops (which are also important for proper hygiene). By introducing these natural elements into the office, we again feed the workforce’s need to be connected to the outdoors. These additions go a long way in creating an inviting environment that helps lower stress for healthier, happier staff.
Another piece to a successful open floor plan is the furnishings. A great open floor plan adapts easily with tables, chairs and even walls that can be moved and reconfigured to fit the size of the group working in the space. These tables and chairs should also be height adjustable, as more of the workforce chooses to work while standing. Furniture in conference spaces should be adaptable too as meeting rooms serve as the venue for groups to gather, but also can provide an area for employees to step into a different space for a quick break to get refocused. By adding soft cushion sofas and chairs around a table in these rooms you get the bonus of a space that can be used for both productivity and a quick recharge.
Finally, color choice has a big impact on the impression you make on your employees and guests who visit your business. We are always intentional with color choice in the spaces we design to ensure that it gets noticed where and how it should be. Bolder colors are used in spaces where people need to work efficiently and creatively. Colors like orange bring energy to people who subconsciously associate it with joy. Yellows remind us of sunshine and hope. Blues can bring calm and instill loyalty while greens emphasize an association with the Earth and nature. By incorporating these colors in furniture, rugs, and accents, we can create a space with positive energy for employees and clients.
But what about our home offices? Over half of the American workforce is planning to work from home and only travel to an office when necessary. This means that if you have not already, it’s time to look at your space and reflect on how it affects your productivity. First, ask yourself if you have enough space available in your home to create an open floor plan. If you don’t, you can create several zones where you work to give it a more open feel. Lots of households have more than one person working from home. So having multiple locations where you can be productive is a must. In our blog, “Addressing Problems in Home Decor”, we showed how easy it would be to convert a shallow closet into a workspace. This space is helpful when you have two people on Zoom meetings at the same time. In the example at right, we carved out unused space under a stairwell to create a stylish home office.
Look at your home workspaces throughout the day to see when they are flush with natural light. You may find that starting your morning in the kitchen provides the best light, but that as the day moves on you may want to move to another room to find that same lighting. I think you will find that by following the sunlight throughout your day, you will stay more energized and creative.
Are your furnishings able to do the double of duty of looking and feeling good in your home, while functioning as places to work? Maybe it’s time to invest in the height adjustable table and chair so that you can work while standing. Is there enough space in a room to bring in a beautiful plant? What about changing a wall from drywall to wood paneling to bring more nature into your space?
Finally, let’s discuss color. This can be more challenging in a home because you may not want a bold orange wall or sofa. However, this is where some carefully chosen accessories can make all the difference. You can use an orange vase or put some beautiful paint to work on those bookshelves like we talked about in our blog “Tips for Decorating Shelves”. Artwork can transform a room too. As I discovered during my recent Design Influencers Tour at Market 2022, Minted has a treasure trove of images that can be made into wall art with all sorts of customizations that won’t break the bank. One example is below.
Whether you’re heading back to the office or you are amongst the Americans who will keep working from home, we hope you will contact us to help you find the right spaces to update. The right décor will inspire you to do your best work.