by Ceri Lovett
There has already been plenty of discussion about the new normal, and how that will be reflected in the workplace. It has even felt like the new normal isn’t normal at all. Following wave after wave of COVID, there is war in Ukraine, a cost-of-living crisis in the UK and a global recession, not to mention climate change.
When the news seems full of threat, it’s no wonder people want to continue working from home. It’s safe, comfortable and easier to manage the work-life balance. For many organisations, there have been benefits in productivity and efficiency. Companies have reduced their floorspace and cut overheads.
The issue has become a political football, with traditionalists demanding that we all get back to work while innovators argue that we should carry the benefits of WFH and flexible working forward and explore new ways to make things better.
Some worry that large areas of our cities are becoming empty husks, with tertiary businesses disappearing as commercial offices scale back leaving behind a barren, lifeless built environment. Employers themselves have several worries. For many an organisation, the workspace is a foundation of its culture and identity – intangible assets that are nonetheless valuable in so many ways.
During and after the COVID lockdowns, the focus was on how to entice people back to the office. Today, that the conversation is broadening with those operating commercial spaces trying to understand in much greater detail the preferences of those using the workspace. The desire to create an efficient, productive space is a given, but it’s crucial to those using the space that it is interesting, warm, human and sustainable.
Design, décor and furnishing are important for both aesthetic and functional reasons. The comfort of working from home has led to a more flexible and informal approach to where, when and work activities take place. With lines blurring, the challenge for office planers is how to make natural transitions between task or focus work, collaboration and meetings, and café and/or social spaces.
Architects, workplace consultants and office interiors companies have for decades worked to understand how spaces are used and what employees want. Long before COVID, office redesigns were evidence-based, guided by surveys, observation of working patterns, ergonomics and wellbeing, alongside creativity and intuition.
To broaden the discussion, Boss Design has developed a digital toolkit which makes it possible to previsualise any office fitout. We call it Destination Spaces, and it’s designed help specifiers to interactively populate their scheme with commercial furniture, tweaking colours and textures to fine tune the ambiance.
In addition, it can be used to help build the partnership that’s needed between the operators of commercial spaces and those who use them. Employees can explore virtual versions of new office designs and take an active role in shaping the look, feel and functionality of their workspace.
When people are worried about so many things in the world that are beyond their control, giving them the opportunity to choose what their workspace is like sends a powerful message. With Destination Spaces, you can open the conversation about the work environment in an interactive and engaging way. It puts the ability to reset the culture in their hands.
If the talent you employ feels valued and are invested in the culture of their workspace, it’s more likely they’ll want to be there and work there. That’s a wonderful thing for both productivity and retention. And, it’s the right thing to do.