How to design the hybrid office post-Covid

by Francesca

Comments by Stella Gittins, Group Director of Accouter Group of Companies

“Pre-pandemic, the office was defined by rigid layouts which companies thought were necessary to support a productive work culture. Fast forward 18-months and reports of the demise of the office are abound, with employees continuing to work from home. However, rather than completely abandoning traditional workplaces, business leaders need to reframe the office space as a destination rather than a contractual commitment.

As meetings can be conducted remotely, there now needs to be a reason to go into the office and this lies in design. Now these spaces need to be re-designed to create an environment which provides employees with an emotional anchor that enables connections and facilitates personal development, alongside promoting health and wellness.

What we see and interact with directly influences our wellbeing, and the workplace is no exception. For example, colour, light and tone can all contribute to workplace productivity, so consider creating different spaces to support different types of work. At AGC, we’ve always been drawn to neutral and natural spaces, framed by our own art collection which is more personal to our people – this can add a meaningful feel to the office and team. Moreover, consider the flow of the space and how the overall design concept can be used to create an inspiring yet practical environment that enables employees to work as effectively as possible.

Leave behind the all too familiar concept of white-washed walls, cubed layouts and coveted corner offices. Instead, strive for a more adaptable design that can evolve alongside the needs of the employees as they change day-to-day. Include team-working spaces that encourage collaboration, along with workshop rooms and meeting spaces equipped with the latest technology for videoconferencing. At AGC, every desk is a hot desk, and the teams can choose to sit in one of the offices or the communal spaces around the building including the bars and restaurant. By switching to a hot-desk system, you can spark dialogue, creativity and reinvigorate a sense of connection that has been largely absent since the start of the pandemic.

Making the office into a destination also centres on its facilities. In our AGC offices, our facilities include a fully equipped gym with a Pilates and Yoga studio and a Rooftop bar. We also have an AGC library where a member of the team can buy an inspirational book which we pay for, if they donate the book for others to read.

In addition, irreplicable furnishings and inspiring reading materials such as cult magazines can evoke inspiration and innovation among employees whilst original works of art can spark conversation for visitors. Incorporating biophilic design into the workplace – whether that be through a living wall or through sound stimuli – can also help to promote employee wellbeing and make the office environment a more welcoming space.

Ultimately, a well-constructed interior design concept can transform any workplace into an engaging cultural space. With employees now looking for much more than just a desk to doc their laptop in, the benefits of getting this right are invaluable to business leaders for ensuring future success. Now the focus needs to centre much more on humanising the work environment, and this starts with designing and embracing the hybrid office.”

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