Office Design Trends 2022

It’s that time of the year again when our office design team and workplace gurus assemble, dust off their crystal ball and discuss the Office Design Trends that they believe will dominate 2022 (and beyond). It’s something of an understatement to say that the workplace and how we work has altered dramatically as a result of the pandemic, and of course, this enforced change features prominently and influences almost all of the trends identified. Our hope is that when we convene to pen our 2023 Office Design Trends article some normality has been restored.The pictures below are all photographs of our finished work. You can view our cases by hovering over and click on each picture.

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The smart office has arrived
The smart office has arrived

 

1. The Smart Office has Arrived

The advent of hybrid working has also fuelled a shift towards increased use of smart technology within the workplace. This technology is designed to allow booking of workspaces, sensors to monitor air quality, natural light levels and space utilisation, and to share that data to better understand how spaces are used and to adapt accordingly. We believe that this is just the start and with the emergence of “digital twin” technology to further enhance the level of data that organisations can harness to improve workplaces and embrace increased adoption of smart technology.

Artwork in the workplace
Artwork in the workplace

2. Artwork in the Workplace

Including artwork as a feature in prominent areas adds key brand messages. Wall art or graphics communicates the brand to staff and visitors. Artwork has been proven to be more than merely decorative. It can help to boost productivity in many cases and also inspire creativity – you can find out more in our dedicated article looking at the impact of art in the workplace.

Hybrid Working

3. Integrating Hybrid Working and the Physical Workplace

For the most part, traditional workplaces are designed to accommodate a majority of staff being present at any given time. That construct had been evolving over the years but the pandemic has accelerated this trend with a majority of employers now embracing Hybrid Work Practices as the norm. There are a number of reasons for this, not least because the top talent now expect this flexibility while it also offers companies the opportunity to downsize large floor plates to accommodate smaller capacities.

In terms of hybrid working and how it impacts actual physical office design, it has led to growing importance and emphasis on designing a workplace to act as a social anchor, a space where human interaction is encouraged through smart design and layout. Whilst employees will increasingly work away from the office, the need for face-to-face encounters when in the office paradoxically becomes all the more critical.

This involves rethinking spaces to look at typical flows or journeys through a workplace and optimising them to encourage and stimulate conversation and interaction – think social/breakout spaces, think kitchen areas, think coffee machines, think water coolers and critically as designers think about we can motivate occupants to interact with these spaces and consequently colleagues.

It also entails providing employees with a variety of work settings within the physical workplace, so they can choose how they want to work, depending on the work they are performing. This is something we have long advocated at K2, and if you read previous trend pieces, you’ll see it is a recurring theme. It’s also a handy segue into our next trend.

Variety of Work Settings

4. Provide staff with a variety of work settings

As referenced earlier, we are strong advocates of designing a workplace that empowers staff and which provides settings to suit all work styles and work types. As staff become less tied to a stationary, sedentary work setting, perched at a desk from 9-5, the workplace has adapted (and will continue to do so) to include spaces designed to facilitate concentration, collaboration, reflection and also Mindfulness and Wellbeing are core themes whenever we discuss office design with clients and whether they are moving to a new space or refurbishing an existing space, the focus has shifted to ensuring the workplace works for those working in it.

You can find out more in our Office Design and Mindfulness article but essentially, workplaces need to provide spaces where staff can:

  1. Concentrate

    The desk can be a space where individuals can concentrate but at times, it can be difficult to immerse oneself into a detailed report or proposal without being disturbed by what is occurring in the proximity. A popular alternative is to create dedicated concentration spaces akin to a library and where the same rules apply – no noise, no distraction and certainly no mobile phone usage.

  2. Collaborate

    Meeting rooms have long been the place for collaboration but over the past number of years, many progressive workspaces have incorporated dedicated collaboration spaces or hubs which are less traditionally furnished and more geared towards interaction with smart technology like interactive whiteboards, writable walls and in today’s climate screens to involve virtual participants.

  3. Connect

    As Hybrid Working becomes the norm, staff working in the office will increasingly need spaces where they can connect with colleagues working remotely via a video chat or group call. Rather than having individuals use up full meeting rooms, small pods are gaining in popularity as they provide privacy for individuals to connect, and of course, they are perfect in terms of space utilisation. These spaces need to be plug and play and allow users to simply and quickly plug in a laptop to join/start a call.

  4. Recharge

    The workplace shouldn’t be all about work as staff need downtime, time to socialise and to recharge, and while canteens or breakout spaces have long formed part of the office environment, they have evolved radically to include barista-quality coffee, an abundance of snacks (almost always healthy) and games (pinball, pool, table football and even karaoke booths) as standard. However, many offices are now taking things a step further and including dedicated recharge rooms or spaces where staff can take a nap, meditate, do yoga or in the case of one particular client, play a variety of musical instruments.

5. The Sustainable Workplace has moved up the Agenda (Again)

Sustainability has risen in importance and 2022 will see an increased emphasis on creating sustainable workplaces. While dedicated certification seems like BREEAM and LEED look at the overall sustainability and energy efficiency of a building, new standards such as WELL Building Standard focus on the holistic wellbeing of building occupants, and blending these different certifications and standards is key to creating a truly sustainable and healthy workplace.

There are areas where design can have a positive sustainable impact including the use of upcycled furniture, materials with high recycled content and a focus on optimising natural light to reduce energy usage. Coupled with emerging technologies that act to monitor building and space usage or that create a digital twin, it will become easier to implement data-driven changes to improve sustainability and energy efficiency.

Other design considerations which can positively impact sustainability include providing facilities to encourage occupants to cycle to work such as showers and storage, adopting paper-free policies, and/or introducing reusable coffee cups for staff. Employees now expect their employers to be planet conscious and to actively work towards reducing their carbon footprint, and the workplace forms a core part of any sustainability agenda.

Biophilic Office Space

6. Biophilic Office Space – Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

Biophilia refers to our instinctive bond with our natural surroundings (see our article on biophilic office design). From living walls to office gardens, we are becoming more in touch with the environment. Plants have various beneficial properties. They help to absorb noise and offer quieter secluded spaces. Plants can also create distinct zones which can help to separate spaces within open-plan offices; for example, the use of crate shelving. Other benefits of having plants in the office include:

  • Improvement in office aesthetics – the breaking up of uniformity and hard lines with natural organic shapes and colours.
  • Reduction in stress levels – being surrounded by nature improves mental health and reduces psychological and physiological stress.
  • Cleaner Air – plants absorb C02 and help to remove toxins from stale office air. In fact, a study by Harvard found that green-certified offices benefited from a significant boost in employee cognition (a 26% increase) and resulted in 30% fewer absences from work.

It’s not just the interior of offices where green spaces are becoming a trend. Some offices are maximising the use of outdoor spaces and rooftops. For instance, Wolff Olins, a design company in London’s King Cross, has an office rooftop garden dedicated to growing vegetables. In the summer employees can take a break from their busy lives to reconnect and tend to the garden. As well as being beneficial for employees, who enjoy the feeling of being in touch with nature, it also provides for productive WIFI-enabled meetings on lavish rooftops. The group renting the office space have also found the garden brings financial rewards by being easy to rent. Raising spirits in the office and feel connected with nature also brings new inspiration and ideas.

That’s all for this year but let’s check back in, in a years’ time and see if our crystal ball was working well or not. In the meanwhile, if you need our teams help to create an amazing new office or to refresh an existing space, we’d love to talk – call us on 020 7697 4670 or email [email protected]


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