As we finally get closer to a genuinely post-pandemic world and employees start to return to the workplace, if only part-time initially, office branding and design are evolving at the same time, as everyone adapts to a changed landscape.
For many, that may mean ‘hybrid’ working, or dividing time between home and the workplace. (The government is proposing to give all employees the right to request flexible working when they start new jobs. If an employer refuses such a request, they need to give a reason for doing so.)
But while workers seem overwhelmingly to favour a hybrid option, for now office design ideas seem to focus on safely reopening offices.
Undoubtedly, given that most office staff have spent a considerable time at home rather than at work over the last 18 months, the way people use offices has changed dramatically. (In 2020, approximately 5.6 million people worked mainly from home in the United Kingdom, an increase of around 1.69 million people when compared with 1998. Source: Statista.)
So it’s hardly surprising that businesses are increasingly considering office adaptations and changes to workplace branding, layout and design to suit these new requirements.
Some companies are fully embracing WFH, and making complete office adaptations for new uses, or downsizing – or even contemplating not having an office at all.
How the way we work has changed: post-pandemic office transformations
In the past, office trends have tended to include tube slides, office putting greens or table tennis sets and other wacky office design ideas from hammocks to basketball hoops, with Google being just one of the more famous examples of funky office branding at its workplaces worldwide. However, in a post-pandemic world, you’ll definitely need to make some different kinds of office adaptations.
For example, staff may only be attending the office for very specific purposes, such as client meetings, teamwork, training or presentations, and be otherwise based at home. In this case, the standard rows of desks or cubicles just won’t cut it in terms of meeting staff’s changed requirements. So firms are totally rethinking their workspaces to suit what their employees need today. That includes making the best use of any office space which is no longer needed, enhancing the overall workplace experience, and actively promoting productivity and staff wellbeing.
Office design and layout: trends and ideas
At Rocket Graphics, we’re interior graphics specialists and have worked on many different branding projects, so we’ve watched with a keen interest as numerous new trends have emerged over the last 12 months.
Here, we list some of the more popular office design and layout adaptations we’ve witnessed taking off in recent months.
#1 Spaces for collaboration
One of the main reasons staff are going back into work at all these days is to collaborate, swap ideas and share knowledge. So it’s no wonder that, for many larger firms in particular, these spaces are increasingly a priority. Small meeting rooms are being opened up and bigger, more comfortable and more inspiring collaborative spaces are replacing them.
#2 More open spaces
Bigger, more open spaces are a key part of creating a collaborative office. Larger areas will make people feel safer, given that the threat of Covid-19 clearly remains with us. But, equally, the bigger spaces mean you can have more people at team meetings, and more space to meet clients, and hold team meetings, training and other events.
As well as becoming more open, meeting rooms are growing in size. Ensure your employees have as much space as physically possible, so that they aren’t crammed together around a small space in an airless meeting room.
#3 Zoom rooms
The perfected Zoom background, including the obligatory bookcase and flowers, became a routine part of our home-based working lives in lockdown. But as people return their offices, Zoom calls will still feature during the working day.
And you may not have realised that you can brand and design your ‘Zoom room’ to suit a newly hybrid workforce, while conveying the right look and message to clients and others during virtual meetings. So think about where and how in the office your staff will make video calls.
The virtual platform itself offers ‘Zoom Rooms’, a suite of tablets, monitors and webcams to use throughout the office to schedule, conduct and remotely connect to meetings.
#4 Relaxation zones
Health and wellbeing were growing priorities even before the pandemic struck. And it certainly does pay to invest time and resources in staff wellbeing and remain positive about mental health at work. According to one figure, around one in five office workers agree that having space to relax in at work is key to improved productivity. And this is no doubt that relaxation spaces are even more important now, given the increased anxiety around coronavirus and, possibly, job insecurity.
#5 Client meeting spaces
Increasingly, one of the main reasons people go in to an office at all these days is to meet clients. So many firms are adapting their spaces to create impressive, roomy areas for meeting existing and prospective clients and other visitors safely.
#6 Give your employees more space
Bigger desks, with wider gaps between them, and even redesigned cafeterias to accommodate the mindset of post-pandemic employees are trends we will probably see continuing, at least for the foreseeable future. Over the last 10 years or so, UK office space has become more and more cramped, so undoubtedly many employees will welcome having more room. (From 2012 to 2016, for example, office floorspace per business in London fell from 58.7m2 to 44.7m2; the equivalent of a reduction of 23.9%. Source: the Valuation Office Agency and the Office for National Statistics.)
Office branding and décor ideas
Adapting offices isn’t just about the space or how it’s used. Branding and messaging remain crucial, as do staff wellbeing and creating a comfortable environment. So don’t overlook these things. Here are some of the related aspects we’ve seen really taking off in recent months:
#1 An environment providing a ‘home from home’
While some people feel they work better in an office setting, others have adapted and indeed learned to love our homeworking environments. So more of us are perhaps looking for a ‘home from home’ when we go to work. That could mean touches such as softer lighting, comfy group workspaces with floor cushions, sofas or beanbags, for example, which will boost employee wellbeing and make people feel more at home, which is, after all, where they’ve been for the last 18 months.
#2 Focus on wellbeing
Employee wellbeing has never been more vital to CEOs and office teams. Traditionally, the typical British office has been frankly a rather dismal place to spend time.
But even employers who already offer a fully branded space will need to make some changes to enhance staff wellbeing at work. This will also be important to keep staff from looking elsewhere for home-based roles. Here are some ideas for doing just that:
- Vibrant yet calming areas which make the best use of textures and brand colours
- Adding plants or other greenery to improve air quality, bring an element of the outside indoors; equally, studies have shown that doing this improves concentration
- Introducing ergonomics into the workplace – for example with keyboards and/or furniture, yields benefits in terms of productivity, safety, costs, comfort and morale.
#3 Sustainable materials
We’re all more aware of sustainability these days, and the issues involved are increasingly something which design teams are prioritising. So it’s never been more important to think about how to create a workplace that will minimise its impact on the planet. That’s why more and more companies are using sustainable materials, from metals and woods to uPVC-free vinyl. There are now more options than ever, and the benefits extend beyond being gentle on the planet. Many natural materials help create ambience, and can do more to complement your existing branding than you may have realised.
#4 Making good use of the great outdoors
There has been a definite shift towards getting closer to nature over lockdown, as being outside became more important to us during the long months of lockdown. The Office for National Statistics, for example, says: “Nature has been a source of solace for many, as lockdown rules have heightened our appreciation for local parks and green spaces. In May 2020, 36% of people responding to the People and Nature Survey by Natural England said they were spending more time outside during the pandemic than before. This rose to 46% in July 2020.”
Some office premises feature previously unused outdoor spaces. These can be transformed to create open-air collaboration areas, meeting places or lunch spots. Think about having workplace gardens and plants and similar features, along with fun, quirky (and sustainable, of course!) furniture.
Other office design ideas include living plant walls to boost air quality, productivity and wellbeing. (They also serve as a focal point when anyone visits your office.)
Speak to Rocket Graphics about office transformation
At large-format print production company and brand implementation specialists Rocket Graphics, we work with some of the UK’s top creative agencies on some of the biggest household-name offices, such as Visa’s European HQ in Paddington, west London, to come up with office branding ideas.
Get in touch today to learn what we could do for your office branding and design, and to discuss your post-pandemic office adaptations.