2020 has been a tumultuous year in just about every industry, with commercial spaces across the UK left vacant for much of the time. In 2021, we expect to see a gradual return to sustainable and human-centric workspaces with employee wellbeing at their heart. With work routines now changing, there will also be a shift towards resimercial design and enhanced connectivity.
These are the five office design trends that will shape the UK’s workspaces in 2021.
Millennials and Gen Z employees now form the majority of the workforce in many industries. They aspire to work for employers whose moral values align with their own more than any generation before them, and high on their list of aspirations is sustainability.
Companies that are committed to environmental causes, diversity and prioritising employee wellbeing are more likely to attract the best talent. Opting for a ‘green’ office is one simple way to show that your values align. These are just a few of the sustainable office design trends that we expect to see:
In 2020, employees have seen how flexible working can provide them with a better work-life balance and improved health and wellbeing, so they’ll now expect to see this reflected in the design of their workplace. Separate breakout and leisure areas that encourage workers to step away from their desks are nothing new, but we expect to see them become an increasingly popular feature in 2021.
We also expect to see more wellbeing-focused elements such as clean air ventilation, more use of natural light and a focus on biophilic design. Biophilia supports cognitive function, physical health and physiological well-being by helping to re-establish our connection to nature. Think living walls, natural materials and scents, plants and even nature-themed artwork.
Research by Cardiff University and the University of Southampton has found that 90% of people who have worked from home during the coronavirus lockdown want to continue doing so for some of the time. With dispersed teams becoming the norm, office-based workers will need to interface regularly with remote employees. To facilitate that, offices will become hyperconnected, with everything from smart interactive whiteboards and large screens for in-house meetings to cameras and microphones that can hone in on individual speakers. We also expect to see office reconfigurations based on acoustic needs, with an increase in acoustic booths, partitions and even acoustic armchairs.
The dramatic increase in home working over the last year has been a blessing and a curse for many employees, reducing commuting time but also increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Resimercial office design blends residential and commercial features to make workers feel more at home in the workspace.
You can expect to see offices with comfortable furnishings and decorative touches that you’d typically associate with the home. That includes:
Large, open plan workspaces continue to be popular. However, due to the rise in videoconferencing and the acoustical issues that brings, office designers will have had to rethink how these workspaces are configured. One solution is the introduction of workstation neighbourhoods, also known as pivot spaces, which are specific areas containing movable furniture that can be reconfigured with ease. They allow offices to remain agile and adapt to the new normal – whatever it may bring.
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