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2023 Office Design Trends: 5 Ideas to Transform Your Space

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 — January 3rd, 2023

2023 Office Design Trends: 5 Ideas to Transform Your Space

Cast your mind to the beginning of the pandemic. And more precisely, that day when we were all sent to work from home—indefinitely.

For the most part, our makeshift “home offices” were hastily cleared corners or box rooms where we spent hours upon hours. Gradually we probably all made small changes.

We bought a pot plant or two, cleared out some old books or junk, invested in an ergonomic chair, hung some art, and maybe even added a yoga mat… Tailoring our workspaces made us feel more positive and more productive. Eventually, we carved out quiet, satisfactory spaces where we could comfortably get some work done.

Modern offices the world over are undergoing a similar transition—just on a dramatically larger scale.

Tackling Attrition: Time to Ramp Up Employee & Workplace Experience

Gone are the days of bland and, quite frankly, depressing rows of desks and cubicles. The inspiration for the modern workplace actually comes from the home place, where employees feel relaxed and secure.

Research from estate agency, Cushman & Wakefield shows that staff now care as much about what their workplace is like and where it is, as they do about pay. Office design trends are following the same trajectory as new office dress codes—function and comfort trump the perception of “professionalism.”

And it’s not just employees who are impacted by office design. The layout, furnishing, color schemes, and artwork displayed in an office all play their part in making an excellent first impression on clients, customers, and potential recruits.

Whether your company is redesigning or relocating, proper planning and attention to detail in your office design can help you create a more efficient, thriving workplace.

Here’s a list of the top five office design trends you can expect to see throughout 2023.

1. The Office as a Third Place

Recent years saw pioneering office spaces gradually evolve to become more flexible, informal, and integrated. For example, brighter colors, softer lighting, café seating, and hang-out zones all started to feature. This shift to a more homely interior design vibe has been fast-tracked and popularized by the advent of hybrid working.

The idea of the office as a third place—a social environment separate from the first place (home) and second place (work or school)—is taking over. Employees are going into the office primarily to work, but also, for a large part, to socialize, meet their colleagues in person, and simply to get a change of scene. Employers want to make the office “commute worthy” in order to build office culture, boost morale and ultimately create a dynamic, fully engaged workforce.

A “whopping 74% of US companies are now using, or plan to implement, a permanent hybrid work model”. The old office layout no longer serves the company. Employees no longer “own” an assigned desk; therefore, fewer desks are in use on a daily basis. Many employees enjoy working from home but crave human interaction with their coworkers. For this reason, when employees spend time in the office, it doesn’t make sense to spend their time alone. Designers are meeting the challenge by creating a sense of connection and community in hybrid offices, blending traditional workstations with open, collaborative spaces.

Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what they need from their office, how they can make the space their own, and what would motivate them to come in more regularly. It could be simply the ability to pre-book a desk, or see who else is planning to pop in for a day.

The goal of the hybrid office is to facilitate the kind of face-to-face collaboration and communication that can’t be achieved while working remotely.

Flexible, hybrid office spaces often include:

● Team huddle areas for sharing ideas

● Areas for whiteboarding sessions

● Hot desks

● First-rate tech setups

● Embedded technology

● Quiet zones, small booths, and dedicated areas for focused work

● Tables for extensive team sessions and collaborative work

● Small informal spaces for one-on-one meetings

● Mixed-use areas or rooms with screens for hosting team meetings

● Games areas

2. Employee Well-Being and Quiet Spaces

Employee well-being trends have thrown up all sorts of innovative ideas for the modern office. A recent Financial Times article listed yoga studios, nail bars, free bike hire, Ottolenghi-style brasseries, swimming pools, beehives, and rooftop wormery composting systems! While some exceptionally large offices can offer some of these amenities, the average office should instead focus on getting the building blocks of employee well-being right.

Well-thought-out office structure, layout, and lighting are the foundations of a healthy workspace. Essentially, employers should offer an agile workplace—the option to work in a bustling, lively office space or a quiet, keep-the-head-down area.

Quiet spaces and sound absorption solutions are becoming increasingly popular in office interior design. As we’ve already noted, employee productivity and creativity are heavily influenced by environmental factors. Employees can do their best work when they feel comfortable and calm in their physical environment. These specially designated spaces can be used for individual reflection or small group discussions. They can be furnished with comfortable chairs, couches, and yoga mats.

If your office space could use more peace, there are several ways to achieve this without moving your headquarters or hiring a contractor. Adding soundproof pods to your office is an effective way to provide areas that are quieter and insulated from general noise. If you’re on a budget, try pushing together existing furniture in your office, such as bookcases, cubbies, or whiteboards. This allows you to create small nooks for employees to tuck themselves away and get through their workload.

As more companies recognize the importance of employee wellness, quiet spaces will likely become even more common in office designs through 2023 and beyond.

Tackling Attrition: Time to Ramp Up Employee & Workplace Experience

3. Biophilic Office Design

As we typically spend more than 90% of our lives inside, it’s no wonder that more companies are looking to make biophilic design in the workplace a new standard.

This type of design incorporates elements of nature into the workplace to connect employees to the outside world. Biophilic designs can incorporate anything from nature but often use natural light, water features, indoor plants, furniture made from raw materials, and green walls.

Global research findings have revealed that workers in offices with natural elements are 6% more productive, have a 15% higher level of well-being, and are 15% more creative.

The positive biophilic effects on human life have been extensively researched and are widely accepted. The connection to nature has been found to have a significant impact on physical and mental health, cognitive function, and overall well-being.

Examples include:

· Reduced stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improved overall well-being

· Improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety

· Increased productivity, concentration, and creativity, and reduced absenteeism

· Improved sleep—exposure to natural light and environments can help to regulate circadian rhythms and improve sleep quality

· Increased physical activity

· Stronger sense of community

4. Sustainability


Sustainable offices are another hot trend for 2023. Employees now expect more from organizations than a perfunctory CSR manifesto. In particular, Gen Z is actively pushing the sustainability agenda, and rightly so. By removing anti-green, eco-destructive companies from their potential lists of employers, they are backing up their words with credible action.

According to the Deloitte Gen Z and Millennial Survey 2022, the vast majority (90%) are “making at least some effort to reduce their own impact on the environment,” while only 18% of Gen Zs and 16% of millennials “believe their employers are strongly committed to fighting climate change.”

This means proactive employers who are delivering on more energy-efficient, sustainable offices are being rewarded with a broader talent pool for recruitment and a happier, more engaged workforce. Additional benefits include saving money, improving brand image, and attracting green clients and customers.

Modern offices should ideally be low-carbon in their design and construction and carbon-neutral in operation. Here are some steps and ideas toward achieving this;

Choose;

· Natural lighting

· Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems

· Renewable energy sources

· Recycling bins and schemes

· Green appliances such as energy-efficient water coolers, vending machines, and printers

· Living walls / green spaces (see previous point)

· A culture of sustainability and awareness

Eliminate

· Plastics

· Disposable supplies

· The importation of furniture and products —where possible, buy local

· Old-fashioned mindsets! It’s time to nurture a new way of thinking by communicating sustainability initiatives, challenges, and successes.

Tackling Attrition: Time to Ramp Up Employee & Workplace Experience

5. Neurodiverse Spaces


While neurodiversity was once considered relatively uncommon, studies now indicate that 15 to 20% of the population are neurodivergent.

Neurodiversity refers to the differences in our brain functions and approaches when interpreting information. ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, and Dyslexia are all neurodiverse conditions.

Booking.com is an excellent example of a business designing an office with neurodiversity in mind. In 2023, the company is opening a new campus in Amsterdam, designed to make work as enjoyable as possible for neurodiverse employees. The new site will include a mixture of areas, some designated for socializing and collaboration, others for reflection and quiet work—with dividers between the two.

A recent HOK report, “Designing a Neurodiverse Workplace,” lists many helpful design strategies, including intuitive navigation, wayfinding cues, memorable spaces, acoustically sensitive environments, and the avoidance of chaotic patterns. Dividers between different

microenvironments “enable all individuals to find suitable levels of privacy and concentration, connection and engagement.”

We will likely see this approach moving into the mainstream of office design as the workplace becomes more inclusive.

Key Takeaway

As we move into 2023, it’s clear that we are witnessing a new wave of clever, intuitive workplace designs.

This list might seem overwhelming. Start simply. Talk to your people. Communicate your intention to improve the work environment for all. Find out what matters to them the most.

Your key takeaway? Don’t underestimate the importance of a well-planned, thoughtfully-designed environment for your employees. Robert L. Peters, designer and author, put it perfectly—"Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future."

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