10 Office Design Ideas for a Future-Facing Workplace | Oktra
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  • 10 Office Design Ideas for a Future-Facing Workplace

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Patrick Isitt
Content Manager
Content specialist in office design and build.
  • Idea 1: Let employees recharge with retreat rooms

    Over the last few years, we have seen more consideration for the different ways people utilise their working environment. Working from home gave people greater choice, whether that was moving into another room to focus on a specific task, or stepping outside for some fresh air.

    These examples demonstrate the importance of retreat spaces – areas of the office where people can recharge with some time to themselves. Retreat rooms are dedicated spaces that offer a sense of comfort, adding both physical and visual variety to your office.

  • The term ‘retreat’ implies not just a break from work, but also a time to reflect in a space that is decidedly different from the rest of the office. These spaces can take shape as a dedicated library or a quiet corner in the office which is furnished in a different style to its immediate surroundings.

    Above all, these spaces must prioritise the user. Retreat spaces can be particularly beneficial for neurodiverse employees, meaning that acoustics and lighting need to be carefully considered. The placement of these spaces is another important aspect to consider, with employees more likely to utilise spaces that are tucked away from the office core.

    Auto Trader’s office showcases how retreat spaces can be created effectively, with residential-inspired booths providing a necessary retreat in a busy office. It gives employees the feeling of working in a different environment.

    Meditation rooms are another great example of these types of spaces, which is something we are seeing as an emerging trend across projects. These rooms can have blended functions, which is a sensible way to utilise real estate and ensure the office remains optimised.

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  • Idea 2: Incorporate biophilic design elements

    Having plants in an office environment has been proven to reduce perceived stress. Biophilic design goes a step further, incorporating various natural elements to create a workspace that fundamentally reconnects humans to nature.

    Key elements include the use of natural materials, exposure to natural lighting, incorporation of vegetation and mimicking natural forms and colours within the design. The goal is to create an environment that boosts creativity, enhances peace of mind and promotes overall wellbeing.

  • In biophilic design, every detail counts – from the materials selected to the layout of the space. Materials should not only be natural but also sustainably sourced, reflecting an ecological consciousness that resonates with many of today’s employees and clients. For example, 55% of people in the UK told NielsenIQ that living sustainably is important for society.

    The design should also consider how employees interact with the space, encouraging movement and providing diverse settings that cater to different needs and tasks – be it collaborative projects or solitary deep work.

    Pushing the boundaries of biophilia in workplace design was one of the key principles for Matillion’s office. It was designed to enhance connectivity and mimic the terrain of the nearby Peak District, with meeting rooms set as ‘islands’ to ensure diverse and dynamic journeys through the space. This design strategy disrupts normal office routines, offering new pathways and discoveries much like a walk in a natural landscape.

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  • Idea 3: Embrace agility through modularity

    Agile working is a model that facilitates flexible working hours and hybrid working practices (from different locations). It gives employees more freedom with when, where and how they work, but the right environment is required to enable this to happen.

    Agile workspace design is what makes this model possible, with workspaces that embraces agility are rising in popularity. That’s for good reason, too; agile workspace design makes businesses more adaptable, enhances collaboration, boosts productivity and can even improve staff retention.

    Modularity is a key concept of workspace design that incorporates an agile approach. This refers to having multiple separate parts which combine to comprise your office as a whole. Reconfigurable spaces and adaptive furniture allow for easy adjustments to changing needs, while also accommodating larger groups to come together for collaboration sessions or a business’s programme of events. As a result, you can include a variety of settings to give staff a choice of different working environments.

  • Take the Moorhouse office, for example, where the square floorplate is divided into four main zones. Each has a distinct function:

    • Work – hot desks and quiet workspace for focused working.
    • Meet – five meeting rooms with a folding wall in the largest room.
    • Flex – a front-of-house area that becomes a breakout area when the above wall is folded away.
    • Grow – an additional meeting space or touchdown station that can house furniture.

    Moorhouse’s office caters to different ways of working, accommodating employees who work from the office full time as well as hybrid workers. It offers a choice of environments for different projects and working styles, while serving as a multi-functional social space that brings people together.

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  • Idea 4: Promote collaboration with dedicated spaces

    We have previously cited how employees working in collaborative settings are 50% more productive than those working individually. Promoting collaboration can also reduce turnover rates, improve employee satisfaction and mitigate workplace failures. This is impossible for businesses to ignore if collaboration naturally lends itself to the way they operate.

  • You can embrace this by moving away from fixed desks with office partitions. Open layouts are a vital component of collaborative spaces. If partitions are necessary, consider screens or sliding walls for better adaptability. Additionally, providing reliable spaces in transitional areas enables businesses to support the ad-hoc needs of employees in their day-to-day tasks and interactions.

    You can see many more important elements of collaborative workspace design in Trainline’s office. Collaborative spaces include meeting rooms, informal areas and high benches alongside individual desks – supporting different ways of working in the office. Functional areas like meeting rooms and whiteboard spaces have also been brought into the middle of the property, making them easily accessible for all employees situated around the perimeter.

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  • Idea 5: Showcase and reinforce your brand

    Having a strong brand is vital for those all-important first impressions, and all impressions thereafter for clients and other visitors. But that’s not all. Research suggests that it can also reduce staff turnover by 28%, reduce recruitment costs by 50% and even improve the quality of applications.

    Especially important in creative industries, branding manifestations can range from the bold, such as neon signs, to the subtle, like brand-coloured accents throughout the space.

    Arini’s office combines a bit of both with large brand logos used on glass partitions throughout the office, featuring an iconic parrot graphic. Elsewhere, more subtle touches are added, including parrots in artwork and blue touches on both furniture and walls.

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  • Idea 6: Add a luxury tint with premium details

    Not all office design ideas need to be complex. Some can be simple, like using high-quality finishes. Whether it is marble inlays or brass door handles, they demonstrate attention to detail and luxury by providing subtle focal points.

    There are multiple benefits of this approach. Firstly, it adds a luxury tint to your brand, relating to the point above. Clients will link the premium elements of the office design to their impression of your brand, products and services. It also enhances the experiences for employees, resulting in better morale and potentially better productivity.

    A great example of this is the Bear Capital office, where bespoke details were added throughout the building. Reeded glass and a textured backsplash finish have been hand-picked for their tactile appeal. Elsewhere, finer details like leather door handles add a refined finish. It is luxurious yet minimal, demonstrating how you can have a premium feel without going overboard.

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  • Idea 7: Encourage movement through configuration

    Encouraging movement is one of the biggest office design trends currently. The aim is to prevent employees from staying in assigned areas of the office, which creates silos where knowledge is not shared across a business. This is also known as ‘nesting’, and it causes problems socially as well as professionally. To encourage movement, businesses can strategically space different teams, departments and facilities to promote cross-disciplinary interactions.

    Take Photobox, for example. Their space is split across multiple floors, but the office is intentionally designed so people do not have everything on each floor. The result is that employees need to move around. That might be heading to the social space on the ground floor or finding new pockets around the office for ad-hoc meetings.

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  • Idea 8: Create a journey with wayfinding

    If you want to move people through your office space, wayfinding is another fantastic source of office inspiration. It creates a clear user journey through your space for visitors or employees.

    Wayfinding can be implemented using subtle details like colour. Take a look at the Toyota Connected office, for instance, which uses different coloured threads to guide people through their user experience.

    LED lighting is another option, as seen at DP World’s office. A continuous strip of lighting supports guests as they navigate the space, from the waiting area and business lounge through the office, where models and artwork tell them more about the brand and its history.

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  • Idea 9: Try hospitality-led design

    Many office design ideas revolve around the ‘hotelification’ of the workplace. In short, this means applying the rules of hotels and hospitality to the work environment. Rather than beds and a turndown service, the focus is creating more welcoming, aesthetically pleasing spaces.

    This could take shape as a thoughtfully designed welcome area strategically positioned at the front of the office, acting as a dedicated space that ensures guests do not navigate through the entire office when they arrive. Other ideas range from comfortable seating and brand touchpoints to more traditional hospitality methods such as a coffee station to make a positive impression on clients and prospective employees.

    Flexible social spaces like the boardroom with folding doors at this venture capital firm’s office – seamlessly transition from a formal meeting room to a sophisticated space for client events and entertainment.

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  • Idea 10: Include multi-functional social hubs

    Employee engagement is a key consideration when it comes to office design. It is not hard to see why. A report by Gallup found that companies with an engaged workforce have 17% higher productivity and 21% higher profitability.

  • Multi-functional social hubs are one of the most significant features to enhance employee engagement while ensuring the office remains optimised from a functional standpoint.

    Social space should be the beating heart of the office, where employees can build relationships that ultimately drive the business forward. These spaces should serve the purpose of bringing people together, be it at an individual level or company-wide.

    Think tea points that can adapt to hold all-hands meetings, or stairs that also function as an events space like at OwnBackup. With two floors in the building, they wanted employees to be able to move around without having to leave the office. As well as plenty of social space, their office includes a wellness and relaxation room with massage chairs and changing rooms to get ready at the office before evening social events.

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  • Implementing office design ideas

    Modern office inspiration ranges from small design elements and room types to overarching themes and office layout ideas. What is most important is that offices work functionally, not just aesthetically.

    It is also important to note that all examples we have included are grounded in context – whether it is from the initial brief or the discovery phase with the client. The way your business operates should always be considered when thinking about how you can adopt these ideas.

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