The new world of work that has come about as the result of Covid-19 has inspired a number of new workplace design trends in 2021, as a focus that combines the previous trends of employee wellbeing and increased productivity and the new trends outlined below give business owners new but exciting challenges and opportunities in their workplaces.
In the Covid-19 era the focus is on maintaining as much structure that supports employee wellbeing within a safe, socially-distanced environment, leading to some major adaptations to office layouts and behaviors, some of which are temporary – for example one-way routes around the area, and limited numbers on site – and others which may be more long-lasting.
Plastic desk shields were one of the early responses to Covid but did create a sense of isolation. In response, desk pods that allow three to four employees to work collaboratively whilst still offering safe distancing have helped solve this issue.
Office layouts that create more distance between desk units, or have alternating desks and workspaces have helped offices become and remain compliant – by using clever layouts, interspersing desk areas with plants or well-structured small conference areas, and facing desks away from each other, new office layouts have found the right compromise between safe practice and practicality
Research has increasingly shown that areas with lots of fresh air and ventilation significantly reduce the risk of the spread of Covid. Where possible, offices that have access to outdoor work areas or large open spaces have started to make use of these, giving employees a refreshing new perspective on working conditions whilst simultaneously achieving safe practices.
Whilst working from home has significant benefits, many employees have missed the social interactions that only an in-person experience can bring. As a result, and tied into the new practices as described above, many employees are now finding a happy medium between some work-from-home days, and days spent in the office. A more flexible approach by many employers has given employees a real sense of freedom to choose, which over time may show a rise in overall wellbeing and productivity.
Workspace design has benefitted in recent years with real leaps in touchless and wireless technologies – from touch-free access control and kitchen appliances to voice-activation technologies for computing, presentations and contactless visits, Covid-19 has resulted not only in an acceleration in technology but also in its application in modern offices.
As the industry continues to evolve to accommodate new ways of working, so too will office space planning and design, with new materials and technologies offering businesses a range of solutions to help employers and employees alike create inspirational, productive and nurturing environments in which to work.