It’s 2021, and the office’s role has changed. COVID-19 has accelerated the future of work and quickly evolved the way office spaces need to function. Workspaces are feeling more like safe, homely spaces, enticing employees back into the office environment.
Naturally, this sees some interesting trends emerge in workplace design: greenery and green credentials are increasingly important, designs are incorporating virtual connections more than ever before, the unpredictable environment is driving flexible, agile spaces that are ready for anything.
Let’s explore what these 2021 workspace design trends look like in practice.
Workplace design trend 1: Make it feel like home with resimercial design
Resimercial design mixes residential and commercial characteristics to create a workspace which feels ‘homely’. The trend began as the Millennial and Gen Z generations entered the workforce. They grew up with technology which enabled the notion of working anytime and anywhere and with that came new expectations around the workplace – comfort, convenience, and warmth. Of course, the pandemic accelerated the trend as more and more people began working from home for a significant amount of time and now prefer certain creature comforts in the workplace too.
Done right, resimercial design introduces employees to natural daylight, freedom to choose where to sit and flexibility around where work is done. On a more surface level, expect to see more comfortable furnishings and decorative additions usually associated with the home such as soft furnishings, warm lighting, framed wall decor and a more domestic colour palette.
Professional office features are still critical; quiet spaces for deep work, private places for phone conversations, meeting rooms, and practical lighting.
Workplace design trend 2: The greener the better
The humble office plant isn’t new, but in 2021 expect to see greenery taken to the next level as the focus on employee wellbeing continues to grow. Biophilic design isn’t just about a pot on a desk – although that’s a good start. It is about introducing nature more profoundly into internal and external design, to reconnect with nature and bring the outdoors in. Think living green walls, plant partitions (a more aesthetically pleasing take on the Perspex screens which have almost become ubiquitous), indoor office gardens, and even marine ‘gardens’, complete with fish, built into seating or breakout areas.
Nature is well known to boost mood, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve air quality, promoting employee health and wellbeing outcomes.
It’s not just about the plants though, green design goes further, extending to more sustainable office design. Employers and employees are more conscious than ever about their environmental impact. In 2021, expect to see more sustainable materials being used in office design and innovative solutions to encourage greener choices within the workplace.
Workplace design trend 3: Virtual first
Videoconferencing technology has played a vital role in the past year to facilitate connection and collaboration. While most offices have reopened in New Zealand, there have had to be concessions made with physical distancing and a general shift to more flexible ways of working. The physical workplace has had to adapt.
Expect to see:
- More screens (multiple in meeting rooms to patch in remote workers), cameras, and microphones
- Smart interactive whiteboards for onsite and offsite collaboration
- Design that promotes good acoustics for effective conferencing
- Small and private designated video conferencing rooms
Workplace design trend 4: Focus on design as part of your employer brand
We’ve always believed that office space is an extension of your brand’s DNA. And in 2021, more and more companies are using their workplace’s design to strengthen their employer brand, and attract and retain top talent.
No longer are offices only seen by employees or those who make it to the recruitment process’s interview stage. Now workplaces are showcased across social media as Millennials and Gen Z share their offices on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Add to this the screen time your office gets via webinars or how it is reviewed on sites like Glassdoor, and it’s clear that your workplace needs to put your brand’s best foot forward.
Every day we help businesses to leverage and showcase their employer brand through their office design – take a look at some examples.
Workplace design trend 5: Movable and modular furniture
In 2021, office design can’t afford to be stagnant or fixed. For it to be practical and responsive to evolving requirements, it needs to be flexible. Physical distancing split shifts and hybrid work arrangements have all magnified the growing need for more flexibility in the workplace.
Expect to see modular furniture that can be moved and adjusted to suit distancing requirements or new working patterns. Movable desks, chairs, partitions and walls, and even whole cubicles will make up the new flexible office design.
Want to look beyond 2021 in workspace design? Explore the macro trends and principles of the future of work here.