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.
A workplace strategy is now more critical than ever
Workplace strategy has evolved from a metric mechanism to one which is an integral part of the development around business, talent and the broader economy — a conversation often driven by headlines focused on place, ways of working and flexibility.
The world has reshaped and workplaces have flipped from the traditional view of an assigned desk within a heavy siloed workplace. However, while being wow-factored by these undeniably cool office environments or unlimited webinars on “hybrid working”, we can overlook the “work” and “strategy” ingredients that comprise the concept of a pure workplace strategy.
Over the last 2 years of Covid restrictions the world has changed, the way we work has changed and the role of the workplace has to change. The challenge for real-estate and work place experts will be to keep up with ongoing transformations, rapid technology enabling and sustainable drivers for a positive climate impact.
And for the executives who manage organisations and workplace environments the words ‘talent’ and ‘economy’ are front and centre with the C-suite expecting great outcomes from the office investments they are making.
Now with rapid global shifts towards a hybrid workforce, aided by technology, we now recognise that most buildings support a traditional approach to work.
Many organisations initially implemented workplace strategy as a means to improve space utilisation with the aim of reducing costs. However, this way of thinking has now dramatically changed, as more companies look to strike a balance between work-balance, reducing costs, productivity performance and enhancing the overall work experience for employees or customers.
Culture and people are key factors for evaluating business performance, and workplaces are increasingly offering a wide range of amenities to enhance performance, attract new talent and improve employee retention. Accessibility, provision of facilities and services, indoor environmental quality and flexible working are rated as some of the most important factors to employers.
Recent shifts to the landscape of commercial workspaces has an increasing number of offices today having fewer individual workspaces, where a greater proportion of space is dedicated to interactive uses and collaboration. There is also a growing trend towards optimising space for ceremonial meetings, as well as interactions in common spaces (corridors and cafeteria, and even CoWork). This trend is increasingly being reflected in new office space designs. Companies are adopting more agile seating and collaborative spaces, which mean less of allocated desks, and more choice based seating designs. The majority of office space design has slowly moved from a rigid floor plan to one facilitating a collaborative arrangement. We have also experienced a higher adoption of technology which is enabling a more ‘anywhere anytime’ workstyle that integrates other third spaces of work including work-from-home, at customer, project based working, and out of office spaces including cafe or CoWork.
Thus, ‘agile working’ has reshaped work styles, work patterns and workplace which has translated to about 50% of the floor plan to desk based working and 50% to more collaborative and social settings.
Over the past 2 years, most companies have started to embrace employees’ needs for a greater work–life balance in an attempt to boost hybrid working, productivity, attraction and retention. Trendy cafeteria and lounge areas have replaced the rigid, closed layouts of the past. This has led to an increase in space allocation towards recreational and wellness areas, cafeteria, and lounges, which are currently estimated to occupy 10-12% of office space, compared to 2% or even less a decade ago.
Translating business needs into the right workplace solutions is important work. Corporate real estate executives are always working through a variety of real estate and business strategy filters and questions.
Flexible, agile, activity-based or projects-based work environments may be just the ticket for one company, while well-appointed, traditional offices may still be the winning formula for another. What matters is each company’s unique scheme, its plan to succeed, future-proof and how that plan translates into the approach to talent, market position and workplace environments or experience.
Contour Interiors has distilled decades of combined experience in property, leasing, design and construction and has produced a dedicated system to assist your business’ evolution. Our Workplace Design Strategy comprises a highly refined process covering Property Services, Concept Design, Design Development and Project Delivery. The Contour workplace strategy aligns your organisation’s business drivers, values and aspirations with the desired behaviour you are seeking to achieve from your greatest asset – your staff.
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.