The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in the workforce environment, forcing workers and employers to redefine their opinions and attitudes towards the workplace. With remote and hybrid work becoming the new norm, employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility it provides.
As a result, businesses are now facing a new type of challenge – how to adapt their workspaces for their teams and future work patterns.
In this article, we will discuss how modern office design needs to change post-COVID-19. We will explore how businesses can accommodate the desire for a more hybrid work approach while also making their workspaces more suitable and accessible for employees who return to the office.
As businesses are noticing their employees wanting to come back to the office, it is essential to consider the changes in attitudes and needs to create an environment that fosters productivity, collaboration, and most importantly, wellbeing.
With the pandemic forcing people to prioritize their health, workers and employers alike should be taking far more consideration in how small changes can lead to drastic improvements on their physical health.
Modern office design should always incorporate natural light, ergonomic equipment and air quality. Prioritising these three elements in your office design can have a tremendous impact on your employees’ physical wellbeing and even lead to big increases in their overall productivity.
Natural light, for instance, is an excellent way to reduce headaches, eye strain, and fatigue, which can lead to decreased productivity and poor health in the long run. Well-lit rooms are proven to improve moods and alertness, based on research conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois.
When designing or refurbishing your new office space, factor in the availability of natural light, paying close attention to where workers are situated. Are they going to be exposed to sunlight for much of the day? Could the layout be changed to allow for this?
Biophilic design is another crucial element of modern office design that can significantly improve your employees’ physical and mental health. Incorporating plant life and greenery into your office space not only enhances the aesthetics but also leads to better air quality, reducing the impact of allergens and respiratory bugs like colds.
The University of Exeter reported that the introduction of potted plants and flora to the office space had considerable impact on employee productivity, in some cases reaching as high as 15%.
Poorly positioned furniture and equipment can negatively impact your employees’ physical wellbeing, leading to long-term joint problems or injuries.
In fact, a study published by the National Library of Medicine showed that almost 60% of population tested explained that their neck injuries or pain started when working in an office.
Investing in ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks, and other furniture that supports good posture and movement can prevent long-term joint problems or injuries.
By prioritizing the physical wellbeing of your employees, you’re likely to see a boost in their productivity, fewer sick days, and a positive work environment.
Mind reports that around a third of adults and young people are experiencing a notable decline in mental health since March 2020.
It’s clear then why mental health and wellbeing are some of the most important factors for workers when considering new job opportunities.
Modern office design can incorporate many elements that foster a better working environment, improving mental wellbeing and leading to less reports of mental health issues in the workplace.
Introducing elements such as natural light, plants, and greenery, as we discussed above, not only help with physical health, but can also help improve mood and reduce stress levels.
As well as this, incorporating breakout areas or relaxation spaces provides an opportunity for employees to take a break from their work and recharge – something which many offices are already attempting in an effort to make working in the office more attractive.
Mind also reports that one in six workers are currently experiencing mental health issues, which is costing employers between £33-42 billion a year.
Some ways you can incorporate mental health considerations into modern office design include:
The memories of long lockdowns and periods of self-isolation have left many employees missing the human contact they would get in a traditional office setting. Whilst many workers are opting for hybrid or remote work, one lasting side effect of this is the lack of communication and social interaction.
When looking to adapt your office design to the changing needs of your workers, look for opportunities to encourage workers to connect, collaborate and communicate with one another on a daily basis.
Encourage these connections in your workplace by providing meeting spaces where people can gather and share ideas. Another way to encourage connections is to ensure that there is space for eye-to-eye contact when employees are at their desks or regular workstations. Consider more open-plan layouts, rather than segmenting workers into siloed workspaces.
It’s clear to see why businesses are looking to bring workers back into the office. With huge office spaces being left near-empty all year round, the need to fill seats is growing. As prices hike up universally, rent becomes pricier and it’s critical that the space businesses are paying for is suitably used.
Unfortunately, some businesses are using the wrong approach and forcing their staff back into the office full-time without adjusting policies to the changing times we find ourselves in. This leads to frustration, and in the worst cases, the loss of quality staff.
To put it simply: Workers have figured out how and where they work best.
To encourage workers back into the office, businesses should instead focus on making returning to in-house working as attractive as possible.
For workers, there are many benefits to working from home including saving time and money on commuting, flexibility to be at home for appointments and increased productivity due to reduced distractions.
Businesses should consider how they can introduce elements that recoup these lost benefits when workers come into the office. From quiet rooms to Amazon lockers so they don’t miss deliveries, online GP platforms to EV incentives, businesses need to put themselves in their workers’ shoes.
To keep up with the changing needs of modern-day workers, businesses need to adapt and become more flexible both in their attitudes to work and their office design.
With more emphasis on flexibility, mental wellbeing and physical health, the only sure-fire way to encourage workers back into the office is to demonstrate their commitment to changing with the times.
At Resolution Interiors, we specialise in bringing your vision to life through interior fit-outs and refurbishments of new and existing sites, as well as relocations. We work with you to create a bespoke environment that impresses customers, employees and shareholders alike.
Alternatively, why not give us a ring on +44 (0)1935 422 700. We look forward to hearing from you.