27 Nov 2020

The office of the future

How a workplace is designed plays an essential role in employee wellbeing, productivity, and happiness. “Coffee is the only thing I need to be happy and productive,” you might be saying. Well, we too are coffee lovers, but the design of a working space plays a much more important role than you think. The COVID-19 pandemic we’re going through is quite probably going to change the way we think and the way we live in the office.

In terms of office design several areas are bound to change, including the materials used, new technologies, and a range of changes in the use of space for improved social distancing environment. Spoiler: the office of the future will be designed like a monastery. Discover below how.

The sense of belonging

The office space is one of the few places we use on an almost daily basis, often spending more time there than in our own houses. Symbolically, it creates connection between the company and the people, reflecting the corporate values they want to share with their colleagues.

From a health perspective, many design elements have an influence. In 2018, a study by Cornell University revealed that people working in an office with natural lighting had 84% fewer symptoms such as eye fatigue, headaches and sight problems. That’s why at Welkin & Meraki our lighting is warm and pleasing to the eye. Set at 2700 Kelvin instead of 3000, it provides the best environment to work comfortably – and completely headache-proof, we promise.

Elegant, high quality office space design has also the power to attract and retain the best employees, as well as helping to keep them motivated and enthusiastic. Neutral colors, different finishes and a generally lean palette of materials such as we use in our business centers reduce stress, boosts creativity, and therefore improves productivity. The design of the workplace is a good way to reflect the values of the company, to put in practice what it preaches, to create social engagement and a sense of belonging for the workers.

Between monastery and cosy next: the office of the future

Covid-19 has forced a radical shift into working habits. Although fewer people are in the office, human connection is essential. The office spaces will be increasingly important in that matter, while having to guarantee the health of the employees. The pandemic we are experiencing will have a long-term impact on the office design.

Disinfection as the entrance ritual
Hand sanitizers are here to stay and will be the ritual when workers enter the workspace, much the same as the purification ritual before entering holy places.

People will come to assist the service
People are desperate to get back together for some social interaction. When people come back to the office, it will be to hold meetings and to find a sense of belonging that the office community and company can provide. Inclusion and engagement are needed to draw people in.

Meetings in the cloister
When workers return to the office, it will be necessary to ensure their safety, even once the pandemic is over. This will lead to new innovations in order to improve health in the workspace.
Ventilation systems are key to providing clean air in the office, and some companies grasped this in the first stages of the pandemic and this will be the future of every companies. More than health and safety measures, airflow systems will help improve the quality of work of workers. Indeed, a study conducted by Harvard University assessed the cognitive abilities of office workers and found that improving the quality of the indoor air environment was highly effective.

Plenty of outdoors space will also be needed to meet in complete safety and to get some fresh air. We’re telling you now; walking brainstorm sessions will soon be the new normal.

Booth cells or big library?
Workers enjoy greater benefits from a stimulating workplace. We’ll make more use of co-working spaces while preserving quiet areas for privacy, having the right balance of open and cellular environments. While open areas with social interaction nurture creativity, more private work zones appeal to those who work better quietly and secluded.

Offices will then become more and more flexible and hybrid, akin to a library with study areas and small booth cells for more absorbing work.

Holy holograms
It’s very likely that for you, holograms seem like a bad sci-fi fan’s fantasy. However, they are becoming a distinct possibility in the workplace. The post-COVID and next-generation kind of calls will involve interacting with lifelike avatars and sharing information in a hologram. Using virtual reality and augmented reality, teams will be able to see and interact with 3D images of projects they are working on collectively, to drag and share information from their devices into a shared virtual space in real time.

Even more interesting, people will miraculously appear in your office space through a hologram portal. Zoom or Teams have seen a massive increase in use in the past few months, but holograms might be the magic touch that will soon be coming to every home and office space. Few weeks ago, PORTL Hologram raised $3M ‘to put a hologram machine in every home’. That way, workers could “appear” in a meeting anywhere in the world.

This solution will help integrate the fully hybrid and flexible concept of the future of the office. Precious time will be saved; business travel will be minimized. People at the office will be able to interact with their homeworking colleagues through 3D images. Holograms might well be the magic flexible and sustainable solution we all were waiting for.

The entire conception of the office is under change and the physical workspaces themselves have yet to change so much. Moving forward, companies will need to invest in office design for employees’ safety and wellbeing, remote collaboration tools and new technologies.