The last couple of years have not been kind or fair to the humble office. We abandoned them in early 2021, to work from home (WFH), as a robust response against the threat of Covid-19. Offices around the world sat empty, except for key workers and skeleton staff, who may have wondered when we would all return to a busy bustling office once again.
Although working from home certainly has several benefits, we can’t abandon the office forever because it helps cement and builds relationships and company culture. Without the office we would simply be a faceless organisation of remote workers and our learning opportunities, face to face communications and skills would almost certainly diminish.
With people now returning to the office because restrictions have been lifted, there are new opportunities to reinvent or reorganise the office.
So, let’s look to the future and see what office trends lie ahead for 2022!
1. Hybrid Working in 2022
As we said earlier WFH does have its benefits such as childcare, saving money on the commute but it can also mean that we miss out on face-to-face encounters with colleagues and events in the office.
To meet all needs of the employee and employer hybrid working has become a popular model where employees work part of the time in the company workplace and part of the time at home.
According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, from small businesses to large companies, approximately 70% of companies will adopt a hybrid model by 2022.
If not thought about already, there will be some discussions in 2022 about how the office is now being used at less than full capacity. Rows of desks and meeting rooms not being used could be replaced with comfortable breakout furniture, acoustic booths, office games and coffee tables. These changes will be welcomed by all and will provide a space to socialise and relax.
2. Office Colour Trends in 2022
Every component in the workplace influences the way people feel about that space and can in some way affect their productivity. Therefore, it is essential to make smart choices and consider one of the most important roles played by colour.
The top colours for offices in 2022 are:
Natural greens and green tones set a relaxing mood while preserving motivation levels, helping to keep workers organised and reaching new levels of personal and task-related growth. Furthermore, it is stress-relieving which is helpful against a backdrop of noise and chatter.
Blue is the perfect colour for creating a calm environment. Furthermore, it is a shade that makes people want to spend time in the workplace. It should be noted that this colour is also associated with safety. Therefore, a blue office will create a safe environment and when people feel safe their mind is free to concentrate.
If you have already been following office trends over the last few years you will have noticed a softening in the selection of materials, textures and colours.
This softening is also interlinked with other requirements such as the improvement of office acoustics, and the introduction of soft acoustic booths or phone booths for private phone calls. There has also been a shift away from raw, stripped-down office styling with some offices taking on a more homely domestic feel.
Image by EN Design Studio. Photographer Yoav Peled
Pink and shades of pink such as rose, salmon, hot pink and blush contrast to lighter shades of wood beautifully and can make a space ‘pop’. Pink will certainly be working its way into offices by 2022.
3. The rise of Co-Working Spaces in 2022
Like many industries, coworking operators and coworking spaces have taken a hard hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, because employers and employees alike have grown wary of working from home, coworking spaces are poised to make a comeback as a part of the emerging hybrid work model.
Centralised offices and satellite offices have also been implemented as a new way of working and have been adopted by larger corporations and referred to as ‘Hub and Spoke’.
However, not all companies can afford to open smaller offices in the suburbs, but they could easily utilise the services of a coworking space instead. It now seems coworking spaces are doing well and are witnessing robust operations and increased bookings.
4. Solo working options in 2022
Because we have been accustomed to working on our own during the pandemic some people returning to the office may feel hesitant about working in shared spaces again. Because of this, we have seen a steady rise in acoustic work pods for individuals or small groups to work from. Having a pod or booths to retreat to can help people’s wellbeing and can also help their productivity levels because they can work uninterrupted.
5. Sustainability in 2022
We are seeing more and more people and companies becoming more conscious of how we’re taking care of the environment. This is one of the reasons why companies and employees are shifting towards a sustainable workspace. Sustainable design practices do not only focus on saving energy and natural resources, but also on increasing the wellbeing of those who work there.
Sustainable office designs are seeking out materials that are non-toxic, eco-friendly, recycled, recyclable, renewable, durable and/or repurposed.
When it comes to buying office furniture try and seek out products that can be easily recycled.
Our Buzzispace range for example features acoustic products which are made from recycled and recyclable materials, both of which are good for the planet and good for acoustics.
Additionally, if some office desks and office chairs are not being used and are being earmarked for landfills, have a think about if they can be reused or reconfigured somewhere else in the office.
Upcycling and converting old or discarded material into furniture, to minimize our impact on the environment, is certainly a trend we will be seeing more of in 2022.
6. Technology in 2022
With some people becoming more au fait with Zoom and Team meetings during the pandemic, we will, in 2022, be expecting offices and furniture to support these types of meetings. Acoustic Pods and booths with monitors are a great way to ensure that managers and employees can stay connected when working remotely. Additionally, traditional meeting rooms may be revamped into ‘Zoom Rooms’ with acoustic panels and ceiling baffles to improve the acoustics whilst on a call. Furniture to feature and support technology, such as inbuilt phone chargers, USB and HDMI sockets will also be trending in 2022.
7. Flexible furniture in 2022
If companies are adopting the hybrid model of working, then the structure and layout of the office could be in question. Is it necessary to have 12 desks when only 6 are being used? Is the meeting room being used as often as it once was? There could be large spaces and areas available which could give way to new ways of hybrid working with remote workers coming in when needed.
One way to achieve this is by introducing flexible furniture which can be moved and stowed away when necessary. Chairs, modular tables, desks and partitions on castors or wheels allow you to change the configuration of the office quickly.
8. Biophilic design principles in 2022
Although biophilia has been trending year on year, it’s not going to be on the wane in 2022. Biophilia is known to increase people’s productivity and focus through a connection with nature. Natural light, vegetation, living / green walls, moss walls, open spaces and nature views are proven to be emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Even images and the use of colour that evokes nature are touches that are appreciated and promote healthy working environments.
So, there we have it. Although we have spent some time away from the office in the last year it has perhaps given us some space and time to think about its purpose and how it serves us. The office is undoubtedly the hub of any company, and that hub must keep buzzing to keep ourselves engaged and motivated.
We have also had a taste of what working from home feels like and have the systems in place to do so if necessary. The hybrid model is going to suit many companies which can offer the best of both worlds.
With a new lease of work-life balance becoming the ‘new normal’, offices will no doubt be transformed to support this balance. Therefore, 2022 is shaping up to be an exciting time for the office.
What changes will you be making?