21 April 2022

Interior design and the new office reality

Gone are the days of drunkenly shaming your backside on the company’s photocopier – since the first lockdown hit, we’re hardly in the office long enough to qualify for a name on the door. Forbes recently investigated how hybrid working is the most likely outcome of the pandemic.

Helping to pave the yellow brick road is Google which has come up with the nifty idea of  ‘Team Pods.’ Each pod consists of chairs, desks, whiteboards and storage units on casters which can all be rearranged to suit varying sizes of meetings and group styles.

Mahogany-wood conference tables in seriously square rooms – OUT! Seating arranged in a circle around massive video conference screens, allowing in-office Googlers to cosy-up to remote-working teams and colleagues – IN! (They’re called Campfire Rooms, incidentally – toasted marshmallows are optional)

Google is also building cool, outdoor hangouts at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, complete with high-tec teepees. Nice if you’ve got that California sunshine, some spare land, and a digital-ready tent at your disposal, but what’s likely to be happening to hybrid working spaces on the rest of planet earth?

Most companies have now arrived in a happy place which can offer employees the best of both worlds. A lot of workers are happy to forego a daily commute, but they also want to use office space for the things they can’t access at home. This can range from a totally distraction-free environment for deep work on a project, to fast non-glitchy internet that’s hard to maintain in the suburbs. Face to face brainstorming and shoulder to shoulder work sessions are equally hard to effectively recreate online, no matter how dazzling your video conferencing package may be.

However, the same office space is now likely to be used by different people on any given day, so what is the working landscape evolving into?

Whilst still imagining workplaces as resource-rich, engaging environments, 2022 will also see office interior design embracing the following qualities:

Sustainability 

This is one thing that’s here to stay. From the sourcing of recycled, upcycled and responsibly sourced furnishings and LED lighting, to making use of natural light, if your office ain’t doing it, it should be planning it.

Technology, data and connectivity

Every working area needs to be connected and with power supplies. This keeps office and remote-workers in each others’ loops, and boosts productivity as well as helping to maintain relationships.

Awareness of employee individuality

 We’re talking about neurodiversity. In a nutshell, this means a variation in the sizes and layouts of working spaces will provide a range of options that cater for everyone. It may be that some folks just prefer a more private area to put the finishing touches on that project, while others may like it better working alongside colleagues.

Smart offices

Many hands may make light work, but these days we just don’t want them touching door handles all the time. Smart tech will not only be involved in sliding doors, but will also monitor natural light levels, control air flow, and turn off lights when necessary.

Hybrid working and flexibility

Hybrid working means flexibility of space. We’ve just mentioned providing a variation in the sizes of space available, but this can also be provided by innovative use of the latest room dividers that can open and close. There’s been a lot of interest in using them at home, but this is something that can transform large office spaces too. Another important ‘must do’ is to provide a range of seating types – from benches to be used for breaks or a brief chat with the team, to a couple of armchairs for a coffee, meeting or interview, make it all flexible. Keep this in mind with tables too. Better to have lots of smaller ones that will fit together for that once in a blue moon meeting for 40.

To give you some inspiration, Dezeen, as ever with its finger on the pulse, has put together this collection of office beauties. To be starring in a workspace near us all soon, fingers crossed.


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