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The events of the previous 24 months have transformed nearly every aspect of our life. Perhaps no COVID-19 phenomenon will have a more lasting impact than ‘work from home’. The pandemic drove companies worldwide to shut their offices, and many were discussing the probable death of the office space. But as the zoom fatigue kicked in, employees grew aware of the thrilling nature of workplaces and soon enough they started missing the unfiltered joy of working in the office with a cup of coffee by their side.
Against this backdrop, Covid-19 offered tremendous opportunities for many designers to redesign the post-pandemic workplace. The goal here was to create a workspace that will draw employees back to the office when they have grown accustomed to working from the comforts of their homes. Current trends in office designs have focused on safety and comfort while adopting a holistic approach to secure high levels of productivity and collaboration. Natural lighting, soft colours and cosy furniture are all important elements of home interior that offices have started to introduce to help their employees feel welcomed.
It is interesting to note here that the global pandemic accelerated and amplified many of the pre-existing trends that were already underway. Let’s look at the evolution of office interiors post the pandemic in detail.
Rethinking the office space:
The interior of an office is the physical extension of a company’s culture, mission, and vision. Contrary to a time when closed-door offices and cubicles were the default, companies are opting for modern and interactive workspaces. Especially over the last 18 months, the office is increasingly being seen as a place to form social bonds. This has led companies to reconsider the office layouts in their post-pandemic interior design while promoting a much-needed sense of employee well-being.
There has also been a considerable reduction of individual office spaces as we see the shift away from assigned spaces for individuals. Meeting and conference rooms are no longer the ideal place for collaboration. Post-pandemic designs are more spacious and open, less traditionally furnished, and more geared towards smart technology.
As a whole, there has been an increase in demand for collaborative spaces within offices. The post-pandemic office workplace design is versatile enough to accommodate a variety of interactions with colleagues. It features more dynamic spaces that can be easily adapted to fit the needs of an ever-changing workforce, both hybrid and remote.
A Home Away From Home:
To make employees feel as though they are in their own ‘home’, designers wanted to strike a balance between comfort and rationale while also inspiring the employees to ‘work’ at the same time. Key elements of this approach include using relaxing colours, textures and material palettes, comfortable furnishings, and biophilic elements such as plants, and natural and artificial lights.
i) Biophilic office designs:
Biophilic design focuses on incorporating elements of nature throughout the office. Many companies are formulating green interior spaces to increase productivity levels and promote the mental well-being of their employees. This includes featuring green walls and plant displays that are fixed to the interiors of walls.
Offices are also embracing more indoor plants, thus unifying the work-life with the natural world. They are perfect for serving as an accessory to natural design properties of wood flooring such as hardwood. Not just this, plants are also scientifically proven to improve air quality and circulation.
However, a biophilic office design isn’t just limited to plant life. There has been an overall shift to reconnect with more natural design textures and elements that can help bring the outdoors inside. Natural materials like wood, bamboo, and stone are making a comeback in the office. Artificial waterfalls and fish tanks are a perfect workplace decor idea!
ii) Lighting and Ventilation:
There is also greater consideration for using artificial and natural ventilation to maintain good interior air quality. Adding natural light is a key to creating a homey office environment that can brighten up the rooms. Glass panels are highly preferred because of their ability to boost the appearance of natural light. Many companies are also using diffused lights and installing artificial lighting that mimics natural lighting. In offices with fewer opportunities to embrace the daylight, designers are creating the illusion of natural light with well-placed mirrors and a warm colour scheme.
One of the most popular post-pandemic office design trends is using lighter colours such as a mixture of greys and greens – relaxing tones and material palettes that counter the turbulence of Covid-19. Neutrals aren’t going anytime soon, as we can see more and more offices embracing off-whites, tans, and beiges. The dominant idea here is a return to nature and the selection signals a sense of optimism and hope.
In addition, colours on flooring can add energy to a workplace and can be used to define different spaces. Light wood looks mixed with pops of colour on flooring and walls have become a popular option for many office environments. For a pop of colour, designers can look at a company’s brand palette to choose the perfect accent.
iv) Pod-Style Layouts:
Open office environments, especially smaller private areas and ‘pod areas’ are more important than ever before. These are flexible workspaces that are perfect for employees who are seeking private spots or enclaves where they can make phone calls, participate in video conferences or work safely away from the office’s distractions and noises. Most of these pods are soundproof and include soft seating and outlets for laptop charging. ‘A room within a room’, these pods are perfect for adding an element of privacy to open spaces. They can be used not just for concentration but also as a relaxing space. Since many people have spent at least part of the last two years in social isolation, these acoustic work pods are perfect for employees that may feel hesitant about working in shared spaces again.
v) Flexible Furniture:
As workspaces are becoming more dynamic, furniture that can be moved around easily to suit different requirements is an investment worth considering. Many offices are being re-designed to emphasise a sense of cosiness to ensure that employees sit comfortably throughout the day, just as they would at home. Furniture which is lightweight, kinetic, and modular has become incredibly popular in the post-pandemic era, as most employees would like to modify their space for ideal levels of productivity.
More offices are adding couches, armchairs with throw pillows to their lobbies, and office spaces to provide an appealing place for relaxation. Microfiber couches that are easy to clean are being increasingly preferred as more and more companies are getting conscious of health and safety.
In a post-pandemic workplace design, desks are a primary component, which aids in building stronger connections, collaboration, and engagement among employees. Many offices are embracing shared desk spaces where employees can come together to share ideas and socialise.
vi) Smart offices:
It’s official, smart offices have arrived! Touch-less technology was underway before Covid-19, but it is even more essential now. New technologies such as motion lights, facial recognition, and motion sensors have certainly improved our outlook on post-pandemic office designs.
Many companies are adopting some of the technology trends that made work possible from homes, such as tools like video conferencing and enhanced virtual reality. These tools factor in sightlines with cameras, adjustable lighting, and temperature control. Artificial intelligence technologies that enable voice-controlled activation of lighting along with mobile applications that indicate the availability of conference rooms are other ways offices are moving to a low-touch environment.
Post-pandemic office interior design tips:
Prior to the pandemic, the office space was already changing, as they always have, to adapt to new needs and productivity demands. But it is a fact that Covid19 has set a lasting legacy in the evolution of office interiors. As we saw, the post-pandemic workplace has embraced other elements as well such as colour, textures, and sustainability that will continue to dominate in the foreseeable future. Here are a few additional post-pandemic office design tips to help you plan your new office space with a refreshed look and feel!
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