for the post-pandemic workspace
and the furniture you need to create them.
As lockdown starts to ease, discussions are centred on how, when and if workers return to the office and what that office needs to look like. In the post-pandemic world, hybrid working arrangements mean more people than ever before will blend working from home and time in the office in the search for a better work life balance and improved productivity.
One thing’s for sure, five days a week of commuting for long days in the office is on no-one’s wish list; the general consensus seems to be two or three days in the office and the rest of the time working from home. Productivity initially rose when working from home, because we were not being interrupted by Bob from accounts wanting to talk about his holiday (remember those?) and could focus more easily. Video calls replaced most meetings reasonably effectively and we all got on with things as best we could. Where remote working falls down is on tasks that can’t be done well from a distance; creative sessions where people spark off each other to come up with new ideas, developing relationships, ambient knowledge transfer from observing what your colleagues are up to, chance conversations that create a new connection and build networks. All of these are good reasons to get back to the office, but with such a seismic shift towards hybrid working arrangements it’s not going to be ‘business as usual’: we need to redefine the function of ‘the office’ and therefore the furniture that goes in it.
Let’s get together:
in a collaborative and sociable workspace
If you’re going to drag people from their garden office / kitchen table, make them get dressed properly and do the commute you’d better make it worth their while. If it can be done on a video call, Zoom away. Save office time for the really high-value interactions that need to be done in person. Face-to-face time is precious, so you need an environment that enables you to make the most of it.
People will come together in the office for a specific purpose rather than simply ‘to go to work’ – they can do that from their kitchen. They will come in to collaborate and work together because ‘you’re on mute’ is stifling their creativity and they need to reconnect. So, they’re not going to be sitting at ‘their desk’ answering emails. Most staff won’t even need their own desk anymore, just somewhere to touch down in between meetings. This raises lots of questions about how much office space you need and how to configure it. If the function of the office is no longer providing a place for an individual to focus on their work, then what is it for? It becomes a collaborative and social hub, whose function is to encourage the development and exchange of ideas and development of relationships and networks. Suddenly rows and rows of desks start making less and less sense…
It’s a meeting, Jim, just not as we knew it
If ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, we need irresistible collaborative spaces where we can get together, not because we have to, but because we really want to. Imagine being really excited about going in for a meeting! Really looking forward to being with other people and enjoying creative interactions with your colleagues! In an environment that is tailor-made for collaboration and gorgeous to boot! It’s within reach, you just need the right ingredients. Agile furniture that can be rearranged to suit your meeting is key, large scale whiteboards are fantastic for idea generation and planning, tiered seating brings a sense of energy and collegiality and pods create multi-purpose meeting hubs that can grow and change as you refine what your workspace is used for. Here are the five key spaces you’ll need in Workspace 2.0 and the furniture you need to create them…
Meetings that take place around an enormous table with everyone sitting still, waiting for their bit while trying to resist another biscuit are a thing of the past; report delivery and status updates can be done online. Meetings now are about tasks that require intensive interaction that just doesn’t suit video calls: idea generation, creative brainstorming, large-scale planning, problem solving and strategy sessions where you need to bounce off each other. So don’t constrain the energy by being static. Gather around a large-scale writable surface with mobile soft seating to encourage movement and keep energy levels high with individual tables and seating or people who need them.
Furniture elements: WorkingWall, Eureka pods, Atom tables, Jumbo tables and Gravity pods combine brilliantly to create these spaces and can be reconfigured in endless combinations.
For exciting announcements, on-boarding new team members with a big bang induction, presentations or training, tiered seating around large-scale writable walls and screens creates a sense of theatre and collegiality while making it easy for everyone to see and for the speaker to be heard. Add soft seating modules to increase audience capacity. Gather spaces are also great for brainstorming, problem solving and debating.
Furniture elements: Try Attune tiered seating, Lobe and WorkingWall.
If you didn’t have enough meeting rooms before, you definitely don’t now. But you can quickly create multiple meeting spaces with CurvPressâ pods which you can configure to form large or small meeting hubs with upholstered seating and tables on the inside and robust touchdown worksurfaces on the outside, rapidly increasing the number of people you can accommodate in your workspace. CurvPress® panels are demountable, so you can move and reconfigure them as needed so your pods can grow and change as your business evolves, you’re not stuck with your first specification.
Visually separate from the rest of the space, pods are where you can hold one-to-ones and small group discussions without taking up a meeting room. Ideal for feedback or coaching sessions, informal chats or small group collaboration you can specify integrated power and data make it easy to connect to wifi or networks and stay charged up, while writable surfaces add an element of fun and great way to work through ideas.
Furniture elements: Take a look at Okinawa pods, Gleneagles pods and Shield screens.
In-person downtime is where relationships are built and networks are nurtured. You can encourage serendipitous encounters and social interaction by providing a proper café-style space where people can gather for coffee and a chat without taking up more formal meeting spaces. Coffee-stained kitchens with passive-aggressive notes about not eating someone’s yogurt and clearing up after yourself are not what we mean here. Café spaces are about benches and booths, tables that can be combined to create larger or smaller groups as required and access to good coffee. Simple, but ‘transformational in terms of relationships’ as one client described their café zone.
Furniture elements: Try Waga benches, Fizz booths, Metropolis sofas and booths, Picnic benches, Edge booths, Ville pods and Huddle pods.
While the majority of time spent in the office will be with other people, there will be occasions when people need to get their head down for some focused work, or to recover their equilibrium as they adjust to being with people again. Focus zones provide visual separation from the rest of the space and send a clear ‘do not disturb’ message so the occupant can get some work done.
Furniture elements: We have a range of study booths in different formats – look at Muse, Madrigal, Fraser and Lyric. Alternatively, upholstered booths like the Fizz and Edge ranges work well here too.
Providing a great environment is about more than productivity, it’s also about making your employees feel valued. Creating spaces that people enjoy using also means they’ll want to come back and that can only be a good thing when the lure of the home office is strong.
We’d love to help you design your new collaborative workspace. Call us ….