The demand for high-quality office space has been influenced by changes in how companies approach their workplace strategies. Businesses are seeking premium workspace offerings, and the office design trends of 2024 will be defined by these new expectations.
As many businesses look to reduce their office footprint, it is important to highlight that while organisations will occupy less space, they are looking to occupy spaces of a higher calibre, making the role of office design even more crucial. The pressure for businesses to provide working environments that support talent attraction and retention is in fact reflected in the uptake of prime office space.
While hybrid working became a hugely influential update to our ways of working in the past couple of years, businesses are approaching their work models in different ways, and we now have a working landscape that looks very different company to company.
More consideration is being taken to account for the different ways people utilise their working environment, depending on their individual needs. Working from home meant more choice, be it the ability to move into another room for focused work or to step out for some fresh air, it enabled us to expand our environments within close proximity.
A retreat space can be much needed for those who might prefer time to themselves to recharge. These spaces provide variety within the office, in a physical and visual sense, through dedicated spaces that offer a sense of comfort and offer a different mode of being in a work environment.
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 in that part of the office. Retreats need to be informal and they must prioritise the user. This means that acoustics and lighting need to be considered. The term retreat is not just about not working, it’s time to reflect in a space that is decidedly different to the rest of the office.
The aim of encouraging movement is to avoid ‘nesting’, where staff remain in their assigned areas of the office, often creating a silo. When encouraging employees to utilise and pass through more of the office space, interactions and chance meetings with others in the office become more common.
Strategically placing different departments or teams can promote cross-disciplinary interactions and discourage people feeling isolated in one specific part of the office. When this idea of moving between zones or floors within an office building is executed properly then you can create a diverse and interesting landscape.
By pulling people away from their designated areas or where people typically work, these workspaces become more effective and allow people to focus on that specific task. Positioning certain amenities and spaces further away than what they’re used to incentivises people to move through the office and improves collaboration and socialising. This ultimately helps to enhance productivity and the quality of interactions, making time in the office more purposeful.
Terms like ‘resimercial’ and ‘hotelification’ are shaped by experience. Resimercial blends the concepts of residential and commercial and the hotelification of the workplace is about learning from the rules in hospitality, namely hotel, environments. When we apply these ideas to workplace design, we find that it is evolving to include individualised and aesthetically pleasing spaces often found in residential or hotel environments.
Despite that, we don’t want to try and recreate a home in the office – they’re two fundamentally different environments. But drawing on the influences of home or what it feels like when you enter a hospitality setting, the office can unlock a new set of emotions and provide a different experience to the one we’ve become used to.
It all comes down to how it feels to be in the office and this can from high-level features such as access to natural light, food and drink amenities and technology down to smaller details like customisable controls for lighting and temperature, planting and quality materials. To elevate the user experience, there is a requirement to provide intuitive, human-centric settings. If you can achieve a sense of the personal within the office then there there’s going to be massive benefits in terms of thinking, comfort, performance and working relationships.
Remote first design is not about encouraging everyone to work from home, it’s about recognising that communication with remote workers will always be necessary in a post-pandemic landscape. This is where designing for the remote first and prioritising those who cannot be in the room will help transform modern offices.
Navigating the combination of people in the office and people working remotely can make it difficult for people dialling in to feel included. This may impact their ability to contribute in the right way or indeed be effective. In this circumstance, technology is not the only aspect which needs to be considered. Small changes, like introducing d-shaped tables which fit flush against the wall have shown to improve inclusion and participation amongst remote workers. It’s a subtle design change but quite literally gives remote workers a space at the table.
If you can create a working environment that considers the remote first and supports them, it can have incredible benefits by enabling effective conversations that aren’t hindered by a lack of appropriate meeting spaces or the right technology.
Businesses are faced with constant change and uncertainty, particularly in recent years. We’re seeing organisations evolve their work models and policies as they have to adapt to the working landscape. What suits a business now might not be the same in a year’s time and beyond as there is the chance of growth or a change in policies which can put a lot of pressure on their real estate.
The idea of building for adaption is something that needs to be considered at day-one or early stages of proposed changes so that you can think about establishing a discipline in the base build design that allows the key circulation areas to be maintained if or when you need to adapt your workplace. Businesses should be aiming to get to a place where they can change their environment without having to completely dismantle the design and the space. This relates to desk locations and the corresponding cable infrastructure; everything needs to be considered.
While landlords are offering more flexible terms, most deals will be looking at three or four years minimum until a break point and that’s a long way away. Organisations are changing so quickly now that you want to be thinking as far ahead as possible and putting as little restriction as possible on your space.