As business owners look toward 2023, the workplace will continue to be much different than it was just a few short years ago.
Covid-19 has been a game-changer when it comes to the workforce. Two-plus years of remote and hybrid work environments has changed the way employers and employees look at the office. As more and more companies return to an in-person environment, employers are looking at ways to make the office functional while also appealing to a returning workforce.
A University of California article surveyed experts who highlighted the levels of anxiety that employees may feel about returning to the workforce after having worked remotely and in isolation and concluded that the fears are very real to the employees.
Many employers are cognizant of this and have given some thought to what they can do to make their companies stand out in this unusual and competitive work environment. In addition to the first thoughts that come to mind – benefits and compensation – employers are increasingly looking at what they can do to make the office environment more appealing.
This premise is borne out in a recent Forbes article, reporting a survey saying that 88% of companies are using incentives to get remote workers back to the office, and that 61% of businesses surveyed are making physical changes to the office.
With that in mind, let’s look at a trend or two that we may see in the new year.
The need and desire for collaboration among team members may be a driver in some of the design and furniture changes. Many studies find collaboration to be increasingly important in the workspace environments of 2022 and 2023. Millennials, in particular, prefer engagement in the workplace, especially after more than two years of isolation and remote working. The importance of employee collaboration will lead to an increased number of open layout designs in the office, allowing people to move around freely as opposed to the traditional “cubicle” approach.
Fewer cubicles and a more open floor plan may also see an increase in comfortable benches and booths, and stand-sit desks. Even the most open floor offices will also want to set up “phone booth” locations – small areas where someone can make a call or work in privacy. Most offices will look for a combination of open spaces and some private settings.
In an office which emphasizes collaboration, you might expect to see more informal, lounge furniture to complement the more traditional office desks and chairs. The companies which operate a hybrid workforce – that is to say, some in-person and some remote – may have downsized their physical space and some will use these sayings to re-invest in new office features. They can provide amenities for their employees that improve their quality of life at work. Fewer cubicles and a more open floor plan allow for a fully equipped cafeteria and casual seating areas. The office can also integrate more agile workspaces such as comfortable benches and, for some, booths or even treadmills at stand-up desks.
The office of 2023 should also be ready to accommodate the changes in technology that make the process of conducting business easier and more efficient. Some chairs and desks come complete with charging stations and other amenities designed to allow for device hookups. One of those technologies, particularly applicable to a hybrid work model, is desk booking software that allows an employee to “reserve” a desk and provides the owner the chance to buy only the furniture he/she needs to meet the employee count.
The meeting rooms of the future will be designed to accommodate what has become a staple of the business world – virtual meeting spaces. Certainly a strong and well-protected network infrastructure is key to the success of this part of the office. Video walls are becoming more popular, bringing virtual meetings to a new level.
And business owners are not overlooking options to be more eco-friendly and compliant, with LED light fixtures and air purifiers, to mention several improvements. Utilizing energy-efficient lights and appliances will save the business owner money and also help the company to be a better environmental neighbor. There are additional options in furniture, including purchasing furniture that has a degree of recycled content, and of course there is always the move toward a more paper free office with document archiving.
Companies are also looking at adding daycare, and in some cases a game room. Work-life balance is key for employees, and for employers too.
As you look at your office plan for this next year, it is helpful to partner with a furniture provider who can offer you the options that will help you achieve the design – and furniture—to help complement your vision. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us, email@example.com.