How Is The Role Of Commercial Office Design Evolving?

The role of the office in the lives of many employees shifted dramatically during the pandemic years, and some of the changes are now evolving into permanent trends. A recent survey published by Statista found that 39% of British workers had worked from home in the past week, but also that 73% of workers have travelled to the office.

This suggests that a significant number of people in Britain now have a hybrid working system, where they work from home for two or three days a week, and commute into an office on the other days. 

The right to work from home some or all of the time is now an expected part of a job package and companies are realising that they need to offer it, or the best talent will go elsewhere. This has led to a reassessment of the way our office spaces are designed and decorated. 

Since the pandemic, there has been a wider recognition of the need for workplaces to promote mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. This leads to happier and more productive workers and creates a positive company culture.

Businesses now also have to give workers an incentive to come into the workplace. Pre-pandemic, working from home was considered a luxury rather than a right, and the standard practice was to be present in the office during normal business hours, if not beyond. 

There are many benefits from face-to-face interaction with colleagues. It can improve communication and lead to more spontaneous interactions and creativity. There is also a concern that younger workers are not being given the best chance of learning from their older colleagues, or having the chance to mingle more informally with their peers.

So, how are companies tempting their employees back into the office? One of the biggest trends is to redesign the office as a kind of ‘third place’, which is a more flexible blend of home comforts and office amenities. 

The phrase ‘third place’ typically refers to hospitality venues such as coffee shops and hotels, where ironically many ‘digital nomads’ do now use as workspaces. Offices are now taking on the amenities and interior design schemes of high-end hotels in order to create a ‘commute-worthy’ workplace.

This involves providing amenities such as in-house coffee and snack bars, comfortable communal seating areas, and even gyms and spas. Instead of the past bland and sometimes even ugly interior design schemes, more thought is being put into the office aesthetics in order to create a welcoming environment. 

There is more emphasis on the use of colour and texture to add some personality and even a little wow-factor to the decor. For example, a popular trend in commercial buildings is to incorporate a Venetian plaster texture as a part of a feature wall or even a ceiling. 

Metallic plastic can also be finished with stencil detailing to create corporate logos and branding throughout the building. This is a clever and subtle way to retain a sense of corporate identity whilst also welcoming employees and customers into a modern and stylish workplace.  

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