In our last blog post, we looked at the office trends for 2021 and predicted a big rise in flexible office design. But what has brought about this shift and what will this look like in practice? In this blog, we take a deeper dive into the future of flexible office design.
Why design for flexibility?
At the start of the pandemic, many predicted that Covid-19 would bring about the death of the office as more and more people discovered the benefits of working from home. And, for a while, it did seem that this might be the case. However, in recent months we’ve seen a shift. As some of the starker realities of homeworking have kicked in (especially combined with the challenges of home-schooling!), we’ve started to miss the office environment. Homeworking just isn’t quite the same, is it? Many people miss the structure of an office, others miss the social or ‘water-cooler’ moments that come with office working. Either way, the office is here to stay.
But that doesn’t mean homeworking will become a thing of the past. Instead, we’re seeing a significant increase in workers expressing a desire to work from both the office and from home. In China, employment expert Alicia Tung has predicted that in 10 years’ time, there will be a 60/40 split of onsite/remote work – and many people are predicting a similar pattern in the UK and US. This new way of working is being called ‘hybrid working’ and is expected to be the future of work. A true best of both worlds’ scenario.
What does flexible office design look like?
Picture this scenario… It’s a Sunday, the kids are at their grandparents’ house. You’re taking this opportunity to pop into the office for a couple of hours. The building is mostly empty, but you know one of your team was planning to stop by too and you’re looking forward to a catch-up.
You enter the dimly lit reception and the lights go on. After making your way to the office area, you stop at an unoccupied desk. You pull out your laptop and fire off a couple of emails. A few minutes later, your mobile phone rings. It’s a video call so you quickly go into one of the pop-up booths so you don’t disturb the few colleagues around you.
When you’re finished, you spot your team member across the room. You take a seat on the one of the many sofas positioned throughout the office to get an update on that project they’ve been working on. An hour later you leave with a clear inbox and a head start on the week ahead.
This is flexible office design.
Flexible design features
In the scene just described, we see a number of key features:
- Automated/ smart facilities such as heat and motion sensors to manage energy output in an office that may not always be at full capacity. Much better for the environment and cost saving for businesses too.
- Seamless, cloud-based technology where devices are wireless and applications can be accessed any time, any place. This will also lead to less paper. Say farewell to cumbersome filing cabinets!
- Non-permanent furnishings that can be easily moved, expanded and contracted to support the immediate/ changing needs of the business or to accommodate different group sizes/ purposes.
- A focus on culture – with fewer fixed desks, office spaces will be set up to encourage creativity and enhance company culture in ways we haven’t seen before.
Excitingly, none of this is outside of our reach. In fact, many office fit out projects we are currently working on are already being reimagined with this way of working in mind. If you’re ready to make the change or simply want to find out how intelligent design could revolutionise your office space – get in touch.