Designing for the Future

January 2021

In 2020, many companies sent their employees home to work remotely. While some of those employees have started to migrate back to the office, a good percentage will never return to the work place full-time. This shift will begin to alter the way offices are designed and the way they function in the future.

The office will always be here in some form, but we feel the key for designing spaces in 2021 and beyond will be flexibility! We believe spaces will begin to adjust to accommodate a smooth transition back to the workspace for those that will be returning. These changes may include some of the following:

Screens at work spaces or around flexible gathering places

Image Credit: Steelcase

Think beyond the old stuffy cubicle! Screens and divider panels come in a huge variety of materials and patterns to fit any situation.  Transparent screens at the work desk provide safe barriers between co-workers while still contributing to an “open-office” feeling.  On the flip side, cloth covered mobile panels create a more private space with added acoustical mitigation benefits. 

Movable furniture

Image Credit: Ergotron

Mobile furniture pieces allow colleagues to gather and collaborate while maintaining a safe distance from one another, no matter what the office layout is like.

Technology hubs

Dedicated technology hub spaces allow staff to collaborate virtually with colleagues that are working outside of the office without detracting from the regular office vibe. A dedicated space can help mitigate “user error” by giving everyone the same set up to work with versus their individualized personal workspaces.

Flexible work spaces

Image Credit: Steelcase

Flexible, non-dedicated work spaces can give employees an area to “get away from it all”. Whether they’re feeling claustrophobic or need some quiet time, employees can benefit from having a free space to go if they need a change of pace.

Home-like gathering spaces

Image Credit: Steelcase

For many, leaving the warm comforts of home for their cold corporate offices will be a hard bite to swallow. Creating more home-like gathering spaces can help ease the transition while providing an area to comfortably and safely connect with colleagues face to face in this clinical and socially distanced era.

Smaller, fully flexible offices

Some companies may make the shift to a hybrid home/office work schedule permanent. In these cases, they may elect to remove assigned desks altogether and craft a fully flexible space which allows employees to work from whatever space feels right during their time in the office. This could ultimately lead to a reduction in the square footage required to support the office function.

One thing is certain – 2021 will be a year for creative and innovative design which will allow everyone to adjust to the new normal.

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