September 19, 2022

Office design trends that are here to stay in the post-Covid era

The pandemic has turned the world upside down and among so many other things, it is expected to have a huge impact on design trends for future offices. As the world limps back to normalcy and the dark clouds of Covid slowly but surely recede, people the world over are gradually going back to their offices.

But it isn’t easy by any means after months of lockdown, the constant anxiety, suffering, for some losing near and dear ones, and also the cultivated habit of working from home – it’s a big shift and there’s bound to be a lot of mental and physical lethargy. But of course, that will be tinged with the excitement of seeing your workmates in flesh and blood again and feeling that bonding all over once more.

These are factors that the new-age office design (or re-design) elements must be anchored on and that massive metamorphosis from standard office design is happening here and now, all around us. It’s almost like beginning from scratch, since nothing will be the same again, as the entire perspectives of both employer and employee have undergone a sea change.

While organizations have realized the high cost of real estate during the pandemic-induced WFH era and are hence keen on optimizing space, they are also faced with the challenge of motivating their employees to return to office and look ahead with positivity, helping them to tide over the trauma. This is inevitably triggering many a tweak and turn on the design board to create the dynamic, people-friendly, sustainable office today’s world demands.

These are a few design trends that are here to stay:

# Flexi, people-centric workspaces: A hybrid mode of work is the new norm in many organizations, that is a combination of WFH and coming to office in person. So today’s offices need to be nimble and focus on utilizing every sq ft of space by introducing smart features, while at the same time keeping in mind the mental and physical health of the employees. Simple elements like indoor plants, informal seating options, coffee machines and built-in downtime spaces can go a long way in imbibing that positive vibe so essential in this post-pandemic world.

# Sustainable design: With this welcome global chorus on climate change and sustainability, no organization can today remain an ostrich to its carbon footprint and other pollutants its functioning is producing. Hence, new office design or re-design has to be geared towards sustainability, from maximizing natural light and minimizing power consumption to rainwater harvesting to reducing plastic use, there are lots that can be done and built into the new workspace plan.

# Employees’ well-being: Health and well-being of the employees must be accorded maximum priority in commercial properties and etched into the design DNA of today’s workspaces. It always benefits the organization in the long run by way of increased productivity, hence better profits. More and more corporate entities are realizing the import of employee well-being. Healthier office ambience equals to lesser sick days. It’s a simple equation for the employers and the design team. So features like foolproof sanitization, better ventilation, Covid screens, ergonomic chairs and even some indoor games or workout facilities to help staff de-stress are incorporated. Some employers are also offering their employees gym memberships. All these efforts can help significantly in curbing attrition.

# Smart tech: Use of intelligent technology, particularly in a hybrid workspace, can be hugely beneficial. A clutch of digital solutions and smart apps are now available to calibrate space requirement and optimization in minute detail, factoring in all the relevant elements like occupancy level, balancing in-office and remote work modes, managing office resources and facilities, et al. Employees can also immensely benefit from the smart apps which make systems and processes really user-friendly and all modern design solutions usually incorporate these.

# A touch of home in office: With the WFH culture having taken deep roots during the long drawn-out pandemic phase, employees would naturally pine for certain home comforts and vibes by way of inertia. Hence, new-age office designers are careful to incorporate some residential elements like lounges, common spaces to meet up for a coffee, indoor plants, brighter colour schemes, interesting artworks, etc. The idea is to help create a more intimate and inviting ambience so that the employees can enjoy a feel of home at their workplace.

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