The Workspace of 2022

Jan 19, 2022 Written by Rhino Team

The word “workspace” has seen its meaning nuanced repeatedly over the past 2 years, and 2022 could be the year that tweaks it again. The world of work has been turned on its head and both employers and employees have come to realise that the office will never be the same again – even its existence has been questioned.

We look across 2022 against a backdrop of arguably the most troubled social, political and economic landscape in a generation. That, together with the Covid-fatigue that most feel, has shifted the view on reality, and we have seen the rise of a new mindset in peoples’ attitude towards the workspace.

So, what workplace trends will empower and connect workers this year? Will they enable new forms of sustainability and increase employee wellbeing in 2022?

Do we still need an office?

The purpose of the office has changed, and for now it looks unlikely that the 9-5 / 5 days a week office rhythm will return. But the past two years have demonstrated that a pure working from home approach is unsustainable – there needs to be a mix of both. Hybrid workplaces are all about giving employees the experiences and interaction which they cannot get remotely, and facilitating stronger relationships across teams from multiple locations.

The workplace becomes a central hub with which teams can gather, meet and utilise facilities; it is the trading floor for the new commodity – knowledge. And this shift calls for a strategically designed workspace different from the old paradigm.

In 2021, Rhino worked with several businesses to help them adopt a hybrid workspace design to help attract the best talent, reduce staff turnover, improve wellbeing and boost productivity with the perfect workspace. The hybrid model epitomises flexibility, and has a strong bias towards collaborative and shared experiences rather than solo work. It’s a carefully balanced blend of structure, independence and sociability.

Flexible working is the future

For the majority, working away from the office has been a positive experience and according to a survey from Adecco, most employees want a mix of remote and office-based working, with 75% of workers reluctant to abandon working flexibly.

Rather than waiting for a return to “normal,” we see companies using this new reality as an opportunity for positive change by shaping a new, more flexible future that empowers employees to work when, where and how they work best.

A proactive approach to Health & Wellbeing

Whilst in recent years we have seen employee health and wellbeing slowly creeping up the corporate agenda, the last 12 months has seen many organisations making it a strategic priority.

It’s encouraging to see more organisations showing a commitment to health and wellbeing, with half now taking a strategic approach. There’s also been a significant fall in those who say their organisation is more reactive than proactive. Certainly, embracing a preventive health model reaps rewards in building a resilient, productive workforce. We are also seeing a growing interest in including gym and shower facilities and even gaming rooms into places of work, as well as a growing conversation around gender inclusive washrooms.

Greening up the office

People are looking for their home comforts when they go to the office; better cooking facilities, tidier and cleaner spaces… and more plants – lots more. Plants in the workplace have long been a point of discussion; the last few years it has had the grand-sounding name ‘biophilia’ but now we are seeing more pot plants on desks, trailing ivy from the ceilings, large statement palms and even cactus beds. Anything which makes the office not feel like an office. We all know the benefits we receive from being immersed in nature, and as we spend more time indoors, we’ve come to realise just how important accessibility to nature is to sustaining healthy lives.

Minimising waste and a focus on sustainability

Sustainability awareness has never been higher. The sustainability of a working space used to be a nice addition to other more popular features, but now businesses are realising the tremendous opportunity and responsibility they have to create a more sustainable future.

Dr Peter Jansen, principal lecturer at the London School of Business and Finance, says: “Businesses are increasingly aware their reputation depends on how socially and environmentally responsible they are perceived to be.”

Whether this is by securing accreditations such as BREEAM, SKA, Fitwell, WELL and LEED, or incorporating sustainable products and solutions, we expect to see more and more companies in 2022 look to embed sustainability into their workplace wherever possible.

Each sustainability journey is unique and Rhino strives to be a part of the sustainable transition, partnering with organisations to help them reach objectives. Working together, we create workspaces which support the planet and set the precedent for our future.

The year ahead

2022 is the Chinese year of the Tiger which is generally associated with assertiveness, boldness, persistence and determination. It will be the year when we will see both business leaders and employees assert their views and rights; and the outcomes will be interesting. The gritty reality of life alongside Covid coupled with turbulent economic conditions will see pressure for staff to return to the office – and not all employees will welcome that!

But a great workspace will at least start to make that transition a little easier.

Understanding that employees work in different ways throughout the day and creating various welcoming spaces to accommodate these different working methods can lead to a more productive workforce. Incorporating an open floor plan with communal drinks, snacks, and coffee areas and a standing meeting space will encourage people to move around and not be confined to the traditional desk and monitor, but find a comfortable area within the environment where they can best function and feel most relaxed. Great workspace can encourage people to think differently about how they work.

Howard Barnes, Rhino’s Creative Lead, mentioned a client recently saying “We want to design our new office so that it makes staying at home a tough decision”. Very well said!

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