The phrase 'return to work' will no doubt bring mixed emotions to office workers throughout the UK. On one hand, the thought of not having to work on a kitchen countertop or the box bedroom will be a welcome relief. However, the thought of integrating into an office environment again may be daunting for some.
As a business owner or managing director, it is important to realise there are steps you can take to help and encourage your staff back into work. These focus on two core principles - environment and culture.
By upgrading and enhancing your workspace with an inspiring office design, together with an open and enhanced culture, your staff will make the transition much better.
Back to the office - changing routines, culture and environment
We all remember what early 2020 was like when lockdown was enforced. Businesses and workers had to quickly adapt to a new way of working. Daily commuting, in-person meetings, and coffee breaks were soon replaced with working from home.
Your employees will have formed new routines; enjoying an extra 20 minutes in bed, less travel time and even got to drop their kids off at school or nursery.
The adoption of remote working on a mass scale was born and 'zoom fatigue' quickly became a thing. On the whole though, businesses adapted quickly and workers soon embraced working from home with productivity levels soaring.
However as we are now approaching the end of 2021, businesses are keen to bring their staff back to the office. There is a need to re-build the office culture and improve workers' mental health by bringing them back into the office.
How to create an inspiring office space to help workers transition back to office life?
Two significant factors help workers transition back to the office and create a positive work environment focus on the office environment and culture.
We believe creating spectacular office spaces revolves around four key factors:
- Sustainable office design
- Well being and human-centric designs
- Incorporate nature
- Smart office designs and technology
Pictured above: we helped create a stylish and functional office space for 33Legal on Peter Street, Manchester. Read the full case study here.
What is sustainable office design?
We are increasingly aware of our impact on the environment and as businesses we all need to contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.
Sustainable office design involves designing and building workspaces that focus on sustainability in mind. This could involve using LED lighting, building with low-emission materials, re-purposing furniture and office chairs, and other high efficiency systems.
How to design for worker well being and create a human-centric office
Here at Eatock Design and Build we like to use the term 'resi-mercial' design - incorporating residential design elements into the commercial environment.
After 18 months of working from home, for workers to come back to sterile, clinical work environments isn't appealing. Workers are used to stylish fixtures and furnishings as well as comfortable furniture.
Workers are also used to private, intimate spaces so the thought of returning to a large open plan office could be quite daunting.
Businesses have to re-imagine their workspaces and ask themselves 'does it inspire their teams?' There are many studies which link positive office designs to more productive staff, so businesses have to embrace re-designing their office spaces as an investment rather than a cost.
Even before the pandemic and working from home, office trends were focussed on flexible workspaces and pod style layouts. If businesses had large open plan layouts, the idea was to segment the large space into smaller, more purposeful areas such as modular furniture, break out sections, and task-focused work zones.
Businesses now have to consider head count and the space available. So for example if an office was considered optimum for 100 workers pre-pandemic, it is more realistic that the space is for 50-60 workers with increased spaces between workers and segregated areas to boost productivity and reduce any form of anxiety they may have in working in large open spaces.
The benefits of incorporating nature into office designs
The rise of biophilic design within office environments has been a hot topic for several years now.
Biophilia is all about humans' connection to nature and our innate desire to be closer to it. Incorporating biophilic design into office interiors is about balancing technical innovation with creativity.
It is about designing office workspaces by:
- using lots of green plants
- maximising natural light and airy spaces
- incorporate water into designs e.g. office aquariums
- embracing natural textures and colours e.g. wood and stone
Incorporating biophilic design into your office design will bring many significant advantages. It will improve productivity and organisational culture; improve the mental wellbeing of your team and helps to reduce stress and anxiety; your staff will be happier and healthier; improve the air quality; and finally it will help you to attract and retain the best talent.
Integrating smart office designs and technology
Smart offices can collect/share data much better which helps companies to better understand when and how different spaces are being used. This has much more of a relevance at the moment with social distancing still a factor in office designs.
Such smart technology includes sensors and monitors for air quality and light levels; touchless doors and desk booking apps for a co-working space. By using data collected, businesses can see how to make their office environments better, which in turn will improve workplace culture and productivity levels.
How do you improve office culture through design?
No matter how well technology supports working in a virtual world, physical face-to-face interactions and human connections have not lost their importance. If anything, their importance has been heightened throughout 2021 with widespread reports of workers' mental health decline from the isolation of working from home.
Ensuring that the culture of your business is open, friendly and conducive to work will make it more attractive for your employees to integrate back into the workplace.
Introducing in-office perks, mental health support and resources, and open communication channels and honest conversations are crucial in improving employee morale and culture.
As a business owner or managing director, it is also important to improve morale and culture through purposeful office design.
It is important to consider the ergonomics of your private office interior to improve employee engagement and wellbeing. Ensure your team have access to ergonomic seating, the right desking environment, as well as factors such as sustainable materials, lots of natural light, green plants, and segregated and flexible workspaces to create an amazing company culture.
The benefits of creating an incredible company culture include attracting the best talent, keeping on to them, a happier and healthier workforce, a more productive team which will improve your business' performance, and less downtime e.g. absences and sick leave.
Considered office design for your business
If you are a business owner or managing director and considering how to improve your team's transition back into the workplace, talk to us today.
Eatock Design and Build are specialists in office design, fit-outs and refurbishment. We turn existing office spaces, even empty spaces, into beautiful functional environments. We help to create high-performing teams and thriving businesses.
We are a main contractor and a central point of contact for your project, which makes it easier for you and means you can spend more time on running your business. Working with Eatock Design and Build ensures your office fit out project runs smoothly, on time and completely within budget.
Contact Paul or Jeni on 0161 631 2727, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how they can help.