There is no denying that COVID-19 has changed the face of the U.S office model. This pandemic sent millions of employees to work from home and caused an uptick in office vacancies.
However, many Americans are now returning to the office, either on a hybrid scheme or full-time. So, we can’t help but think, what will the future look like for office spaces in a post-COVID-19 world?
The evolution to shift towards flexible work isn’t a new concept, but COVID-19 certainly created the need for many offices to speed up their approach to this transformation and meet their employee’s demands quicker.
In addition, the global pandemic expediated this already underway office adaptation, meaning it’s a model that your employees were already seeking pre-pandemic.
Nowadays, companies are trying to work out how to balance this lasting shift towards remote work with the inclusion of a physical workplace. If businesses want to attract and retain a productive workforce, they will need to look to the future of office spaces that provide an experience that caters to all types of workers.
In addition, they will need to consider an office space that incorporates social interaction and collaboration that many have lacked and craved throughout the pandemic. These five office space trends for 2022 explain how your company can create a flexible, safe, yet interactive workspace for you and your employees as we slowly enter a post-pandemic era.
1. Office Furniture Safety Measures
Ergonomic office furniture has been around for years, but as we shifted towards working from the comfort of our own home, employees who are returning to the office want to bring that homey, pleasant atmosphere to the office.
Ergonomic furniture plays a key role in creating an increasingly comfortable workplace, so it should be a priority for your office design in 2022. However, please read our blog about ergonomic office chairs before you invest.
The importance of sanitization will no doubt carry on into 2022 (and we hope beyond, as it’s a great habit to stick to!). Offices are now undergoing constant disinfection, so the finishing of your office furniture and surfaces should be durable and easy to clean. In addition, you should look for materials that will not show signs of wear and tear after continuous cleanings, such as leather and metal.
Another trend for 2022 is lightweight and flexible furniture that is moveable, adjustable, and easy to sanitize to ensure your employees are safe and provided with a flexible workspace.
At Cubiture, we have a range of products and solutions to help make your workplace safe. For instance, our countertop screens are designed to prevent the spread of viral transmission, where social distancing cannot always be followed.
2. Workstations Will Prioritize Physical Distancing
As more and more office spaces reopen in the U.S, the initial focus will be to keep employees safe. However, the layout of workstations will vary from office to office, and all companies will need to find their way to build and design a more flexible workspace. The challenge many offices will face will be ensuring a 1.5-meter distance between workstations – which for now, the U.S government requires.
A trend we saw this year was many companies downsizing their office space; however, this makes social distance an even greater challenge. In 2022, we forecast companies keeping their original office space and redesigning their workstations or upgrading to a larger space to accommodate all their workers in a more comfortable and flexible layout.
Another trend for 2022 will be movable workstations, like desks, chairs, and tables, that can be easily rearranged for a socially distancing, friendly workflow. Earlier this year, Montalba Architects told Surface Magazine that they envision a paradigm shift towards a more resilient and flexible office space hub in place of permanent, large open-air office spaces.
Companies need to understand what office equipment each of their employees needs at their workstations. Generally, a workstation should be organized, so the surface looks tidy and not cluttered, making it easy to keep clean.
Therefore, storage boxes and organizers may be essential for employees to store their personal belongings and documents. In addition, tables can be separated, or you can divide the open-plan office space into micro-zones with 4-5 workstations. This way, employees can still feel a sense of interaction and collaboration while maintaining a safe physical distance.
3. Open Plan Office Space
The open-plan office is becoming an ever more popular concept in the workplace. It provides the flexibility companies need to redesign and shape the office according to their employee’s needs.
Another reason why open floor plans for the office are popular is that they are much easier to clean. They also limit the amount of surface areas employees will touch.
For instance, door handles, cubical openings, and arms of chairs are some of the most touched objects in offices. These surfaces may make offices safe from a distancing perspective but perhaps relatively unsafe from a germ spreading perspective.
A key prevention of the spread of COVID-10 and other pathogens in the workplace is proper ventilation. Therefore, OSHA recommends maintaining a ventilation system as it “is a key engineering control that can be used as part of a layered strategy to reduce the concentration of viral particles in indoor air and the risk of virus transmission.”
An open-plan office space where you can open up windows would rapidly improve office ventilation. It may even limit the spread of COVID-19. However, if you can’t open your windows, investing in an office climate control system may be time. These systems maximize the amount of outside air supplied with air filters.
Movable Office Walls
In general, offices are planned based on an open space principle; however, each employee has the right to a personal zone. This can be designated with soundproofed partitions or movable office walls.
At Cubiture, we can optimize your space with appropriate socially distanced layouts. We also install individual workstations that will prevent cross-contamination with glass barriers, which will allow your employees to work and interact safely.
4. Office Transparency
The future of offices looks like this: signs, floor markings, stickers, and safety instructions. Businesses need to be transparent with their employees and guests by educating them on how to behave safely in the workplace.
We are used to road marking and signs, so surely, we will become accustomed to it in the office. For example, to ensure your employees keep a proper social distance, it’s suggested to introduce floor markings. These markings tell them where they should stand while waiting for the elevator or arrows to direct people in narrow hallways.
This is perhaps the most unsettling office space trend of 2022 (and beyond?). However, it is a safety measure necessary to follow if we return to the office. These measures help maintain a safe working environment for our colleagues and our families at home.
Some other ideas to install in the office to make your workplace even safer are:
- Automatic doors – with touch sensors, finger scanners, plastic passes, or even with a face recognition system
- Contactless dispensers for soap and disinfectants
- Use non-contact systems for flushing and mixers in bathrooms
5. Outdoor Areas and More Plants
This has been trending long before the time of the pandemic. It’s no secret everyone enjoys a desk plant and an outdoor area for their breaks. However, it is great to see that more businesses are investing in an influx of plants in their office spaces. The thought is that plants may reduce the risk of virus transmission by improving the air quality.
An office design trend for 2022 is to include natural elements in the office interior. And, if feasible, moving workspaces outdoors, where the risk of virus transmission is almost 20 times less than indoors.
An abundance of plants, natural elements, and natural lighting is not just aesthetically pleasing. Still, they also have a tremendous effect on the physical and mental health of employees. It’s proven that a green work environment positively affects brain function and even reduces stress levels.
Let Us Help You
Get expert help today! Perhaps the change of offices as we once knew them is for the best. And, there is no doubt we are entering a new era of the workplace.
However, your company wishes to recreate the office in 2022. The objective is to unite everything employees enjoy while working from home with more traditional features that promote creativity and productivity safely.
Do you need to adapt your office to social distancing protocols? Are you unsure of the best way to utilize your space more effectively and safely? We are experts in office optimization and design.
We plan and install layouts that will best protect you, your customers, employees, and families from COVID-19. As a result, Cubiture can position your business for optimal recovery and hope for a brighter future.