To generate profitability and deliver excellent working experiences, the new strategic workplace must empower and connect workers.
Though many employees choose to work remotely, businesses are making every effort to welcome employees back to the office. To do that, employers can introduce innovative office design and technology to improve workplace safety, productivity and the general well-being of employees. Workplace design in 2022 will be quite different from what you’re used to seeing today, so here are a few ideas of what employees can expect by 2022.
Flexible office spaces
Office design has evolved thanks to the fact that more and more employees are now working flexibly between the office and home. Workplace design in 2022 will take this concept one step further, with offices being built around an open-plan layout so that the workplace feels like a second home to employees, promotes collaboration and improves the working atmosphere.
An open office aims to maximize space utilization and incorporate creative and comfortable design features, such as open desks and seats, bright natural lighting and coherent color schemes. Small touches, like using non-uniform furniture to create an informal and fun mood, can also be added in to further bring out the nature and characteristics of the company.
Under an open-plan office layout, employees no longer have to work in tiny, isolated cubicles. They can easily reach out to their colleagues and access different departments or the equipment they require. Adding a minimalist touch to the interior design can also make the office appear clean and ordered. The future of workplace design is about flexibility—giving your employees the option to work in a way that suits them.
Elements of nature
Due to the pandemic, employees spend most of their working time indoors, and hence, their connections with the outside world are often lost. One way to help employees reconnect (sort of) to nature is through the adoption of biophilic design. A biophilic design addresses humans’ “innate desire to connect with the natural environment”, which is also known as biophilia. This can be done by either revamping the entire office or just adding in elements of nature.
The key areas that a biophilic design stresses on are windows (to bring in sunlight and natural views), greenery (like plants and living walls, which are walls affixed with potted plants), forms and patterns (like honeycombs or leaf-outlined decorations), texture or tones (like wood and concrete furniture as well as natural colors) and physical connection (like a small outdoor garden or rooftop patio). Nature-inspired office designs can encourage creativity and concentration, enhance air quality and lower stress levels.
Focus on wellbeing
Apart from infusing the office with natural elements, companies can also incorporate wellness-focused amenities, such as gyms and meditation spaces, to support employees to the fullest. Businesses are realizing that a healthy and comfortable work environment is key to staff productivity and happiness. This can include anything from providing areas for staff to exercise and relax in their free time as well as offering mental health-related workshops and upskilling courses.
Technology and workplace design go hand in hand. To curb the transmission of the diseases in the workplace, more hands-free and touchless technologies will be employed in office design to minimize touching different surfaces. For example, touchless check-in solutions can be implemented for visitors so that they can simply enter the office by scanning a QR code at front desk kiosks or access control points, like doorways, turnstiles or elevators in a building. Further, voice activation or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and other hands-free controls will be employed around the office to improve access to facilities and communications.
Gone are the days when we would work at our designated desks in the workplace. The conventional personal working space has given way to hot-desking. Often used in a coworking space, hot-desking is an organizational system which allows employees to select where they want to sit every day on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone shares all the resources and facilities in the office.
One of the biggest advantages of hot-desking is that it helps cut down unnecessary real estate expenses as the spaces can be utilized to the fullest. For companies that adopt a hybrid work model, employees might spend a significant amount of time working from home, and hence their desks will be left unused. Hot desks can therefore save space or even repurpose it for other purposes, such as building bookable conference rooms and collaboration areas. Further, offices can also provide portable barriers, such as drapes, walls or shields, so that employees may put them up when they want some privacy while using these shared desks.
Hot-desking, of course, has its drawbacks—it could bring about hygiene problems and spread diseases, which is particularly risky when we still are battling the pandemic. However, if offices establish and follow proper protocols, the risks can be greatly eliminated. For instance, offices can implement a desk booking system to better organize the usage of these desks; employees should also be reminded to sanitize the area before and after use.
COVID-19 has compelled everyone to adopt stringent hygiene practices, and offices are no exception. Companies must make it easy for employees to maintain appropriate hygiene throughout the pandemic. This implies that workspaces should be designed to allow for the placement of several hand sanitizer dispensers in strategic locations across the office. Also, each worker should be assigned personal storage, such as lockers, file drawers or cabinets, to put their belongings, especially for offices that have an open-layout design or hot desks. Furthermore, trash cans should be located in common spaces rather than at individual desks to improve sanitation.
There’s no doubt that the workplace is changing, and it’s all for the better! These are just a few of the changes that we can expect to see by 2022, so keep an eye out for more updates as time goes on.
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