As we enter the year 2024, there will be significant changes in office design. The highly anticipated “Great Return to Work” is altering our understanding and creation of workspaces. This article explores the shifting landscape and important trends that will shape office interiors in the upcoming year.
In today’s post-Covid world, hybrid workplaces are becoming increasingly more common as many of those working during the pandemic have found that they enjoy working from home rather than heading back to the office. Although there is a lack of face-to-face connection, the benefits of remote working – in their opinion – outweigh the social advantages.
Finding the right balance of collaboration and focus in a workplace can encourage employees to return to the office and allow them to appreciate the environment and become more productive.
Why Is Office Collaboration Important?
As mentioned in our article on collaborative workplaces, collaboration benefits employees and improves their wellbeing as a space that allows them to be more creative and productive than in a more traditional office.
However, it can’t all be social! Implementing focus areas in your office is equally as important as having spaces to facilitate teamwork and innovation – time spent concentrating on one task without disruptions greatly improves productivity and can assist employees in completing their work in a timely manner.
Striking the Balance
Over the past century, there has been a struggle to find a balance between having a collaborative open-plan workplace and providing space for workers to focus, with the trends going back and forth between extremes. In the early 20th century, offices were almost entirely open-plan, cramming as many desks as possible into the workspace. This slowly shifted to the stereotypical ‘cubes’, and then returned to the open space – neither situation being completely satisfactory to the workers.
Today, the solution is to create multiple specific areas within the workspace to inspire both face-to-face connectivity, as well as ‘quiet zones’ where employees can concentrate without interruption.
In a hybrid workplace, having this separation is even more important, as a lot of employees have become accustomed to having the space to focus without being distracted by other workers. However, they also require the connection that collaborative spaces bring, so they feel connected with the company whilst having a flexible working schedule.
Create Opportunities for Social Interaction
Employees will often be physically separated in a hybrid workplace, as some work from home while others head to the office. In addition to designing a workspace that facilitates both collaboration and focus, opportunities need to be created where possible for social interaction, to assist in combatting any disconnect workers feel from the company and their colleagues.
Make it a priority to schedule in-person meetings when employees are in the office – it makes a lot of difference to how they connect and can spark a significant increase in their productivity. Workers are more likely to want this face-to-face time when they’ve taken the time to come to work, as they want to really make their effort worthwhile.
What About Focus?
Although collaboration is a very valuable aspect of work life, establishing zones where people are encouraged to single-task with few distractions or interruptions is also of great importance.
There will be some who come to the office merely for the ‘social’ side – seeing their colleagues in person and building or maintaining the connection that seems to be lacking through virtual communication. Others will come for the office environment, or simply because they’re required to show up on certain days.
Regardless of the company or the office, there will always be a need in workplaces for employees to spend a portion of their time with minimised distractions. It’s best when there is a designated area – and even a designated time – for this to occur, as this will further increase productivity. Utilising time to focus on a single task or project raises concentration and promotes autonomy and self-direction, as well as reducing stress – all of which can lead to a more engaged and motivated workforce.
Ask Your Team
If you’re still struggling within your workspace to find the right balance between focus and collaboration – ask your team! It’s likely they’ll have a very good idea of what they’re looking for when it comes to working in a hybrid workplace and can assist you in making more informed decisions. In addition, your employees will feel valued, further earning their loyalty and trust. A workplace that correctly balances collaborative and focus areas will do wonders for team morale, productivity and connection.
The sound quality of an office might not always be the first thing you consider, but it is crucial in shaping an optimal and efficient workspace. The acoustics of your workplace can greatly influence how you and your coworkers function, interact, and, most importantly, affect your general wellness.
Undoubtedly, there have been social issues accompanying the shift to remote work. This article discusses the potential for both success and drawbacks in remote working, particularly concerning the potential impact on work-life balance when the boundaries between work and personal life become unclear.