Office Design: The New Normal


What will the office of the future look like?

These challenging times will pass – but it will undoubtedly have a very long shadow! It has been interesting to observe the evolving changes office design has evidenced over the last few months.

We have a responsibility now to start visioning a realignment of the workplace. A place where staff can interact with co-workers and support the business vision in the best - and safest - way possible. Workspace design will need to address the challenges of the current restrictions but also be ready to flex and adapt as times change. 

The first place to consider the dynamic of the office from is in the light of the ‘work from home’ period that recent times have provoked. For many this has been a new experience, with a high percentages of staff reporting that they are more productive and less distracted when working away from the office.


The After Effects

Some tiers of management who previously hardly experienced home working have had a pleasant surprise!  The 'WFH' mode has engendered good levels of trust across all tiers of the team, and in some cases brief glimpses of a colleague’s home environment have deepened respect and understanding.  Other positive aspects include concerns about IT failures and work ethic slipping when not directly supervised being debunked. 

The consensus is that WFH will be a permanent part of the office language, suggesting that our use of the office will change as the demand for desk space gives way to meeting/collaboration/idea generation space.  For the next few months (at least) there is a need for physical distance and separation, driving the design of spaces towards a more open footprint which can be adapted to reflect current working practices.

So, the new workplace is everywhere –the old work:life boundary is all but gone and we are (mostly!) enjoying the benefits of this; work happens anywhere and is not dependent on being present in the office.  This raises questions about what the purpose of the office really is! Even before Covid-19, most workplaces were only running at between 30% - 60% occupancy.

The Design

Take time to study the two 3D visuals above; one designed at the end of last year, and the other remodelled to meet the needs of today.  

  • Easy clean materials and hard flooring.
  • Carefully-planned acoustics to counteract hard surfaces.
  • No-touch locker storage to replace personal drawers.
  • Non-allocated desks with a no-clutter policy.
  • Clear shielding for personnel working in close proximity.
  • Open-plan floorplates with non-permanent furniture and dividers.
  • Less closed spaces, informal furniture, more stand up / brainstorm spaces with increased tech facilities.
  • Designated ‘zoom pods’ for video meetings.
  • Bespoke provisions for departments back in the office such as as interview rooms and secure storage.
  • All spare spaces made bookable.
  • Open plan tea points with additional appliances and facilities.
  • lighter and friendlier decor, with an emphasis on biophilia.

What now?

Many aspects of the design syntax have shifted indefinitely; time will tell how embracing them will impact organisational effectiveness. 

This is why you need a guiding partner to navigate these uncharted waters.  For 45 years Rhino has been crafting workplaces in which teams are happy and successful - never has this been more critical than now!  We've constructed a tailored programme of creative resilience, designed to co-ordinate every step needed to get the show back on the road and perform.  

One of the team will be more than happy to speak to you - give us a call on 0121 728 9977

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