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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.

5 min read

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

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

Office spaces need to be smarter, adaptive to our teams and support the function of the space as well as being safe and inviting so that workers look forward to spending more time in the office to socialise and boost productivity.

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.


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 once again. Creating comfortable collaboration spaces is an easy way to ensure that your team are working together and have the opportunity to socialise at work.

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

Open spaces also give the opportunity for those who work 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 increase their investment in becoming more environmentally sustainable. Reducing plastic footprint and paper usage, reducing or producing more environmentally friendly marketing and promotional 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. Being able to showcase your environmental values to new talent can help to show your organisation in the best light in which people want to be a part of.

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


Office Acoustics

Without appropriate acoustic treatment a workspace can quickly become noisy and overwhelming, for most, this is a stark contrast to working from home and for some it may be challenging to readjust. Ensuring your teams comfort and ability to work is not compromised because of noise is important in order for your workplace to be efficient for everyone.

Noise is considered to be a major contributor of decreased productivity within the workplace. It has been proven that background noise can reduce task performance by up to 50%.

However, it is easy to find solutions to control noise levels so that your workers have space to complete all varieties of tasks, whether it’s to host a video call, take a phone call or to chat to nearby colleagues. For example, large desking areas will need to be more acoustically controlled than break out spaces. Distraction and decreased productivity can simply be avoided by organising activities and tasks based on noise level, 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 and efficient 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 all 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 a 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-based tasks but a space to gather your team and showcase what your company culture is really about. Having these facilities available to staff makes your workplace one in which 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 is important to remember that every organisation is different and 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.