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Q3 2021: Return to work trends

As the return to work is well underway, here’s some of the trends we have seen evolving over the last quarter to meet the demands of the current workforce.

4 min read

The role of the physical workplace continues to change as it evolves to meet the needs of the modern workforce upon the return to work. The pandemic has shown that we’re capable of working from home. However has also highlighted the importance of social interaction and the effect collaboration and social cohesion has on productivity.

The workplace is being forced to progress from a dated one-size-fits-all mentality because of the pandemic. Offices can no longer be a place where all employees are expected to work in the same conditions no matter their role, tasks or needs. Instead, it must now encompass a broader variety of adaptable spaces to meet the needs of everyone in your team.

Offices need to be smarter, adaptive to our teams and safe so that workers look forward to spending time in the office as we return to work.

As the return to work is well underway, here’s some of the trends we have seen evolving over the last quarter to meet the demands of todays workforce.

Open collaborative space

After Covid-19 forcing us all into isolation, we are all much more appreciative of being able to socialise. Embracing collaboration in the workplace is a great way to get everyone back together as we return to work again. Creating comfortable collaboration spaces ensures that your team are working together and have the opportunity to socialise at work.

Ensuring there are a variety of these collaborative spaces gives your whole team choice in how they work. This gives them control over how they manage their days dependent on their tasks, scheduled meetings etc.

Open spaces give the opportunity for those working in different teams within your business to get to know one another. This will help solidify your company culture and bring the whole organisation together. This promotion of teamwork will remind workers of the values of your business and the joint goals of the business.

Sustainable design

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of sustainable living and working. Companies are now being seen to be investing more in being environmentally sustainable. Reducing plastic footprint and paper usage, producing environmentally friendly marketing materials and incorporating sustainability into your design such as green roofs or using upcycled furniture are all ways in which you can increase how environmentally conscious your organisation is.

Sustainability is also becoming an increasingly bigger deciding factor for those seeking new jobs. Showcasing your environmental values to new talent helps to show your organisation in the best light that people want to be a part of.

A survey showed 57% of those aged 18 to 34 would rather work for an organisation with equal environmental values to their own. Businesses should now be making sustainable workplace designs a part of their strategy to engage their current and future employees.

Office Acoustics

Without appropriate acoustic treatment a workspace can quickly become noisy and overwhelming, a stark contrast to working from home and it may be challenging to adjust back to. Make sure your workplace is efficient for everyone by ensuring your teams ability to work isn’t compromised because of noise.

It has been proven that background noise can reduce task performance by up to 50%. This makes it a major contributor of decreased productivity.

However, it is easy to find solutions to control noise levels. Ensure your workers have space to complete all varieties of tasks, whether it’s taking video calls, phone calls or to chat to nearby colleagues. For example, large desking areas will need to be more acoustically controlled than break out spaces. By organising activities and tasks by noise level you can decrease distraction and increase productivity. Have dedicated space for louder collaborative tasks, quiet focus time and for socialising.

Recently we have specified ‘white noise masking’ systems into some of our more recent projects.  White noise masking is one of the most effective strategies available for controlling acoustic comfort within open plan environments. The system employs the introduction of background noise to dramatically reduce the distance that audible sound will travel.

Wellbeing facilities

Businesses are now realising the advantages of having space in the office to promote wellbeing in a less traditional way. Gyms, workout studios, sleeping pods, meditation rooms, dedicated break out spaces, games rooms are examples of ways to ensure your workplace doesn’t only provide space for work tasks. These facilities show that your organisation cares for your employees. Whether it’s providing space for your team to socialise after work or space for individuals to take a needed break during the day.

Placing an emphasis on health and wellbeing within the workplace is also another major advantage when seeking new talent. Office space shouldn’t only be a place for work tasks but a space to gather your team and showcase culture. Having these facilities available to staff makes your workplace a space your team enjoy spending time in with their colleagues.

These trends are in response to how the workforces of today function. And it’s important to keep up to speed with what employees want so that your workplace is modern and efficient. Equally it’s important to remember that every organisation is different. So as well as keeping up to date with trends, we must listen to the needs of our own organisation. Assess what drives productivity and morale in your team and implement these demands in your workplace to boost your team and company culture.  If you’re looking to make some changes to your workplace to facilitate some of these popular post pandemic ways of working – get in touch with a member of our team.