How to design an office space that people want to come back to

Your office design showcases and influences your company’s two biggest assets: your property and your people. As companies begin to invite employees back to their offices since the pandemic, the question lingers: how do you create a space that employees want to come back to? After over a year of working from home and creating a space that works for them, employees are looking for a place that promotes safety, as well as comfort and collaboration. Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your office space.

Create a hybrid friendly environment that fosters collaboration.

For the remainder of 2021 and beyond, companies will have to continue to adapt to a more hybrid workforce—with teams working from home and in the office simultaneously. Creating a hybrid environment that allows employees to thrive can be difficult to get right. Without careful planning, a poorly designed office space can threaten company morale and hurt collaboration efforts.

virtual conference

A common hurdle that hybrid teams run into is collaboration with creative work like brainstorming sessions. This type of work includes sketches or whiteboards that can be difficult for remote employees to engage with. Think about how your conference rooms are set up currently. There is probably a big table with a monitor at the end of it, or perhaps you don’t have a monitor setup and only utilize conference phones. Instead, give every employee a screen in front of them to better engage with remote employees. This will be especially useful for open work spaces.

Construct a ‘third place’ within your office space.

The ‘third place’, as discovered by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, is a place outside of the home and workplace where like-minded people can come together. It’s a space that fosters relationship and community building and can be a real asset to a work environment.

What’s great about a third place is that there’s no set rules on how to go about creating it. You don’t need to buy more real estate or expand the lunch room to create an effective space. Take note of where your employees already have frequent interactions and incorporate elements that encourage social interaction like comfortable seating and tables.

third place office

Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor space, don’t focus on the location itself, seek out areas that your employees are drawn to and comfortable in. A well-designed third place draws employees to the office, builds trust among employees, and promotes an engaging environment.

Design with a greater focus on health and safety protocols.

With the pandemic continuing to affect daily life, health and safety remains a #1 concern among employees and employers alike. Every surface in your office space must be easily cleaned and sanitized from tables to appliances to furniture.

Aside from sanitation and overall cleanliness, employers need to have a workplace that is ergonomically efficient. When you sit in the same space for upwards of 8 hours a day, it needs to be comfortable. By implementing ergonomic practices, employees will be less likely to develop physical injuries from equipment and more likely to have an increased mental wellbeing and productive work efforts. Ergonomics includes fully adjustable chairs, standing desks, monitor arms, and keyboard trays—just to name a few.

Consider integrating biophilic design into your space.

Biophilic design brings elements of the outdoors into the office. Now that doesn’t mean you have to try to plant a pine tree in your office, instead focus on bringing in more light, increasing air flow, and natural materials like wood, water, and vegetation.

living wall

Biophilic design isn’t just adding some plants or a wood coffee table to the breakroom, it’s about melding together the indoors and outdoors. This means incorporating elements into the office such as:

  • Living walls and plants

  • Waterfalls or fish tanks

  • Natural materials such as wood, bamboo, stone

  • Improved air circulation and filtration

  • Natural textures, patterns, and colors

  • Increased natural and artificial lighting

Biophilia, landscape, and nature elements within the workplace have been shown to improve both physical and mental health and increase productivity.

Take this opportunity to reset your space and focus on collaboration.

For nearly two years the only personal connection we’ve been able to achieve has been through a screen. Now, employers need to focus on an office space that fosters community and collaboration like never before.

Today, office spaces need to have a greater focus on collaboration, innovation, and health within every aspect of its design. It’s about creating a space where employees feel safe, productive, and inspired—a space they want to return to. Have an idea but not sure how to bring it to life? Create your own mood board and start transforming your office space today.