Office design trends are changing faster than ever before. We’re living in an age where a good office design means more than high productivity and pleasing aesthetics. Remote working and work from home arrangements mean offices don’t need to cater for as many workers as they did pre-pandemic. The needs of the employees that remain in offices have also changed. Now and possibly well into the future, a well-designed workspace can help keep workers safe.
Current office designs that consider how we’re working differently due to COVID-19 could last for many years. A Mirvac white paper COVID-19 and the Changing World of Work 2020 reports workspace design trends are changing towards a place focused on bringing people together to collaborate and connect as needed.
Modern workplaces don’t just consist of a single office, but rather a web of spaces including workers’ homes, third party locations and co-working spaces. Instead, the office headquarters will provide an environment for cultivating culture and networks.
#1 Social Distancing
Tightly packed open plan offices might have been ideal just a few years ago. Employers could maximise the floor space and therefore the return on their rent expense if there were few offices. But having 100 or more staff in one space with no physical barriers or social distancing now seems crazy.
People are conscious about the need to leave 1.5 metres of space between each other at the shops, so they don’t expect to work shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues. Even when the threat of COVID-19 disappears, there’s still the common cold and flu virus that workers won’t want to pass around the office. Desks and break-out areas need to provide enough space for workers to socially distance while eating lunch or taking a rest.
Configuration of Desks
Some organisations have workers sitting in ‘teams’ where desks are in rows or circles facing each other. This is considered higher risk for spreading infections as workers talk, laugh and cough in close proximity. Having desks face the same direction is a safer configuration.
If the trend of working from home continues, it’s likely organisations will reduce their office space. If workers can choose to spend part of their week working from home, hot desking will become more popular. Workers won’t need a dedicated desk if they’re not there five days per week. They can share desks with their colleagues who are also enjoying a mix of work from home and in the office. Having sanitation stations is important for cleaning hands, desks and equipment between each use.
#2 Return to Petitioning and Individual Offices
For those office workers who don’t like open plan layouts, the pandemic has been a reason to return to cubicles. Petitioning provides workers with a little more privacy than working in an open plan environment. A cubicle also means workers are less vulnerable to catching a viral infection from their neighbouring colleagues.
#3 Customised Office Equipment
Gone are the days where every worker sits at the same type of desk and chair. Over the last few decades, the industry has learned so much about ergonomic design and reducing worker’s risk of injury. Part of the learning is that the same piece of equipment is not going to suit all workers.
Consideration for Different Body Shapes
Some workers are tall, some are short, and some have pre-existing injuries that require aids or special equipment. Chairs are made to suit body types. There are chairs for the average worker then there’s chairs for petite employees and heavy duty chairs for workers who need a stronger chair. Tall workers need a desk that’s height adjustable for extra under desk legroom. There’s also equipment for types of work – control room chairs, healthcare chairs, drafting chairs, and ergonomic stools.
#4 Virtual Conference Rooms
Workplace design needs to consider the communication needs of workers. It’s more likely that employees in the office will want to meet over a Zoom call with colleagues who are working from home. Therefore, offices need enough private rooms to have these conversations without disturbing those working around them.
From the time the pandemic began, boardrooms across Australia were being decked out with the latest technology to facilitate high quality video conference calls. Many organisations went from hosting the odd video call to daily calls so poor-quality visuals and audio were no longer acceptable.
#5 Natural Elements
Biophilic design encourages contact with nature by applying it to your surroundings. It responds to the need of humans to be in contact with nature, even at work. Health and wellbeing have never been more important in all aspects of life including work. Small changes like bringing plants into the office can reduce stress, improve productivity and happiness.
Research in recent years has highlighted how important natural light is to our wellbeing, quality of sleep and mood. Good office design can ensure the maximum number of workers can enjoy the natural light available in the office. In the past, a boardroom may have been placed on a floor’s perimeter to enjoy the view which denied workers the opportunity of sitting near the window.
Awareness of air quality has also improved. Indoor air quality is known to be poor compared to outdoors. Being able to open a window for fresh air is highly regarded by many workers. For those that can’t open a window, workers may benefit from using an air purifier.
If you’re looking for equipment to suit your new or upgraded workspace, visit our showroom, call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online