Office design trends have steadily shifted toward spaces that make efficient use of space, have multi-functionality, and are more environmentally friendly. This trend was set to continue in 2020, but COVID-19 forced businesses and their employees in a completely different direction.
Some of the changes caused by COVID-19 are likely here to stay, which is evident when looking at office design trends for 2021. For the first time ever, businesses must account for at least part of their workforce being remote at any given time.
2021 promises to bring office designs that combine flexibility, technology, and a healthy dose of social distancing.
Physically Distanced Workstations
As COVID-19 continues to persist, many businesses must reimagine their offices with extra space in mind. Not only could six-foot distances between workstations be mandated where you’re located, but your employees may also feel safer and more comfortable with this distance.
For businesses that rely on open layouts, a simple fix is to stagger seating positions throughout the workspace. Instead of having workers directly next to each other as usual, at least one open space should exist between them. Businesses are also making use of transparent plastic or glass panels to separate and protect employees while still allowing them to see each other and interact.
While both of these options are effective for the time being, long-term solutions should incorporate these distances and divisions in a more natural and visually appealing manner.
For example, instead of empty seats between active workers at a table, offices can switch to individual desks or tables. Instead of cheap looking plastic dividers, offices can utilize biophilic design and separate workers with natural elements like plants.
The challenge is to divide a shared space in ways that don’t destroy the functionality of the space. Ensure that your employees feel safe without feeling disconnected from their coworkers.
More Technology Integration
Last year, we discussed the trend toward technology-integrated offices. Desks, conference tables, and even lounge seating was being built with outlets, charging ports, and other technologies that accommodate the shift toward mobile devices.
COVID-19 has continued this trend, albeit in slightly different ways. Over 50% of business executives plan to continue offering remote working in the future, and most employees would prefer to work from home at least some of the time.
So, even though businesses may continue to have workers in the office, they’ll likely be collaborating with employees working from home. With this type of work environment becoming more normal, offices must find ways to make this type of collaboration seamless.
The best way to make this happen is through additional technology integration. Screens, microphones, and cameras will be essential to office design in 2021. Interactive whiteboards and multiple video screens, for example, can be used to ensure everyone in a meeting can easily work on the same project.
Adding technology to your current office design may not be enough to make this happen, however. Acoustic needs may require a reconfiguration of your office, or your office space may not have the proper layout for a video conferencing area.
Rethink Communal Spaces
Even after COVID-19 passes, employees will be more hesitant to enjoy communal spaces like they had in the past. There will be a heightened focus on sanitation and workers might even be careful about how many people are in a room at one time.
As a result, communal spaces like conference rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms must be treated differently. Here are some design tips:
- Office Furniture: Opt for pieces that can be easily moved, reconfigured, and cleaned. This will not only ensure employees are safe, but it will give you the ability to easily change the layout of a room without issue.
- Appliances: In areas like kitchens, refrigerators can become breeding grounds for viruses due to the number of employees using them. One solution could be to have a small fridge for each department to limit the number of people using the same appliance.
- Touchless Technology: The fewer things employees have to touch, the better off they’ll be. Motion lights, automatic doors, and automatic faucets and toilets can all cut down on the spread of germs.
It can also be useful to rethink conference rooms. Instead of one big table for everyone to crowd around, smaller tables could be the way to go. Tablets or a projector can be used to ensure everyone is looking at the same thing without the need to be shoulder to shoulder.
Resimercial Office Design
Resimercial office design is a combination of “residential” and “commercial” features intended to help employees feel at home. With remote work becoming a popular choice for businesses, leaning into resimercial design can help them feel more comfortable when they do make it into the office.
Offices are already shifting toward more flexible, multifunctional workspaces, so it makes perfect sense that this has become a trend.
If the resimercial design trend sounds like a fit for your office, consider adding these elements to your workspace:
- Natural/ambient lighting
- Curtains on windows, wool rugs on floors
- Comfortable seating
- House plants
- A mixture of textures and silhouettes
These small changes result in a more comfortable atmosphere and bring your office into the resimercial space.
Your Office in 2021
In addition to being Pittsburgh’s leading office furniture dealer, Office Furniture Warehouse gives businesses complimentary office design to ensure you’re getting the most out of your space. If a new office design is on your horizon, our trusted team is here to ensure your new workspace is optimized for your employees and your budget. Contact us today to get started.