hile the world is still navigating its way through the pandemic, there has been a paradigm shift in the way people interact, behave and conduct their lives. People across communities, cultures, and races adapt to a cautious lifestyle coined the “new normal”. Large corporations, companies and organisations of all sizes had to run their business from the humble homes of employees.
While there are solid advocates for remote working becoming the norm, opinions favour hybrid and agile workplaces. With this thought gaining popularity, many companies are resetting their office layouts and redefining the spaces. Employee wellness, productivity, flexibility and inclusivity are the terms doing the rounds in the post-pandemic (I don’t know if we can call it yet!) times.
Another critical factor influencing a new trend in office interior design is the growing influx of gen Z into the workforce. Here comes a force that is technology savvy, remote-work ready and prefers a flexible workspace.
These factors are shaping future trends in office interior designs, some of which are touched upon below.
1. Home-away-from-home (Resimercial)
As the gingerly employee returns to the office after a long gap, it might take some time to re-condition to work from a formal office environment. Companies that are mindful of this humane situation have restructured their offices to look and feel homely. Minor changes like replacing lounge seating with casual couch seating with bean bags spread around can make the space more familiar to a home setting.
Resimercial interior designs began gaining popularity in the past few years, with Gen Z populating the workforce. The pandemic boosted this trend as countries went into a lockdown that forced people to work from their homes for more than a year. Resimercial design is a blend of commercial and residential design elements that makes the office look warm, welcoming and less intimidating to employees returning to offices.
2. Open and spaced-out
The pandemic has instilled in us the importance of space and safe distancing, which is here to stay. Many companies are rethinking office layouts and have been innovative, re-designing their offices to adapt to this requirement. Besides being clutter-free and partition-free, the open office concept has introduced a new element that is “space”.
Office layouts are designed to ensure desk distancing and workstations are alternated and face away from each other. Desk pods and acoustic furniture have been incorporated in workspaces to reduce noise while at the same time enabling collaboration. Today’s talent belongs to a generation that grew up in an environment of equality, inclusiveness and diversity. It has influenced an open office concept that’s not heavy on hierarchy and divisionism.
Many large corporations are leading the initiative of sustainability and long term thinking. Environmental consciousness and mindful living are fast gaining traction, and companies big and small are adapting to this green revolution. Designs that promote the usage of recycled and low emission products are a new trend in office interiors. There is also a growing trend in using non-toxic materials in flooring and paint materials.
Regenerative designs promote waste management and are the way forward towards sustainable thinking. Techniques that give a new lease of life to existing products and accessories by recycling or upcycling them to not end up as toxic wastes. Sustainable design in its proper form facilitates plug and play features without causing much wastage during shifting or makeovers.
Modern offices are constantly evolving, not only in terms of design but also in functionality. Agile offices of the future facilitate flexible and open work environments. Global technology giants have taken up the lead in this style of functioning.
There is a gradual shift from assigned seating arrangements to flexible work areas in most of these companies. Companies will soon restrict dedicated workspaces to specific functions, and most offices will see a growing trend in flexible seating.
Like all living things on the planet, human beings are powered by solar energy and hence the inherent need to connect with nature and green spaces. Edward O.Wilson, a biologist from America, first coined the term Biophilia to explain this natural attraction to greenery and nature. As a step towards de-stressing modern workplaces and promoting well being, companies have re-aligned office interiors to have more plantations and natural light. The biophilic environment in a workspace means a combination of plantations and a play of natural light or sunlight.
Several research findings have reported that biophilic environments in the workspace increase productivity by 30 – 40% while promoting the employees’ mental health and overall well-being. Workspaces that have plantations and natural sources of light are more attractive. They improve cognitive functions and enhance mood and creativity.
6. More colours & Warm finishing (Timber Finishing)
Adding bright colours to furnishings, wall parers, and other accessories that bring vibrance and cheer in the workspace is gaining popularity. Employees are more likely to perform better in a lively environment and also feel less fatigue.
Wood finishings, bright furnishing and curved designs in workstations and accessories give workspaces a warm and cosy feel. Employees tend to work longer and stay refreshed in comfortable, colourful and warm offices compared to other formal spaces.
6. Hybrid with advanced technology
Hybrid workplaces are primarily supported by technology, and hence the trend started at global technology companies. Future offices will not be dedicated workspaces but one among several places where employees can work. Remote working will be hugely popular; however, offices are here to stay as well. Considering this, futuristic offices will be more like facilitators in the functioning of employees than an assigned address.
Hybrid offices have introduced AI calibrated technologies that facilitate collaboration and productivity for remote and on-site work environments. Investing in modern communication resources ensures seamless and non-intrusive functioning in a dynamic business environment.