With the average person spending over a third of their lifetime working, the environments where we do so are incredibly important. From regulation of mood to our overall sense of happiness, health and wellbeing, an enjoyable work environment can create a world of difference. This couldn’t be truer in today’s work culture, where flexible working now reigns supreme.
Microsoft labelled the next great disruption ‘Hybrid Work’, a professional working climate, ushered in by COVID, global lockdowns and a collective realisation that the ways we were working left a lot to be desired. With many able to work from home, and offices now shifting to accommodate flexible working, office environments are in the spotlight, as is the conversation of how to optimise the ‘hybrid’ work lifestyle to empower organisations and employees alike.
In this blog, we’ll explore employee preferences for environment optimisation, current design trends and the impact small changes to our workspaces can have on our productivity, health and happiness.
When TechCrunch recently quizzed office employees on what made office work attractive, they produced insightful answers. Collaboration, community and peer-to-peer learning all made the list, speaking to the desire many have to experience genuine human interaction in their places of work. Only, many traditional workspaces aren’t conducive to this experience. From uniform cubicles to lifeless rooms, free from communal areas where genuine interaction is facilitated, many office environments fail to deliver on this essential driver of workplace satisfaction and enjoyment.
In saying this, much of this is individual preference. Where some prefer group working, and open desks, others prefer quiet areas, individual work spaces and separate areas for socialisation. This is where a balance is key, with many workplaces investing in floor planning and interior design that caters to a variety of needs and preferences.
For others the office is a primer for work itself. As many will have noticed, working from home permanently can have drawbacks, most notably the lack of separation between work and home. For many the distinction between these two environments is key, with the act of travelling to and from work allowing us to switch between these modes of operation and enjoy better work-life balance as a result. This positions the idea of the office as that of a resource, rather than a location or destination. For many organisations and employees, an engaging office environment is an essential catalyst of productivity, collaboration and vocation; a tool that can be used to bring the best out of employees, while offering them a place to work in an engaged and focused fashion.
With office-only work likely to never return given the dramatic shift in worker expectations, rethinking the office becomes a necessity. The office becomes the place to work collaboratively, socially and develop professional relationships, and the home office is where we perform the bulk of our work, with digital apps like Slack, Zoom and Monday.Com keeping us digitally connected with those in our organisation while working remotely.
So, with hybrid work on the rise and this trend only set to continue, what are some design changes that can be implemented in home and work offices to optimise the experience? Here are some things to consider:
Resimercial design brings residential and commercial influences together, giving you the best of both worlds. Businesses can achieve this by bringing the comforts of home into work areas, with tactile furniture and colours that create a sense of warmth and comfort, or custom upholstery like that found in our Konfurb range. This might be a designated living room area in a corporate office, it might be art throughout the space, lounge-style furniture like our Konfurb Halo ottomans (featured below), or more of a living/dining area as opposed to a lunch room. This can create a hybrid work environment in a single space, giving workers the ability to both focus and relax in areas under one roof.
Conversely, bringing commercial elements into the home office is a great way to create this distinction in your home environment. With habituation playing a major role in our response to environmental stimuli, creating a designated work space that ‘feels’ like an office, will help you get in the mood to work while there, then ease out of it as you transition back into your home living areas.
A study on the long-term effects of office plants was conducted in 2014 by researchers in Australia, the UK, and the Netherlands. In examining three office environments over many months, they found that greenery significantly improved workplace satisfaction, concentration and air quality, while contributing to a 15% increase in productivity.
Many of us will know the feeling of sitting in a lifeless, plantless or windowless office, and the incredible difference natural light, fresh air and plants can do to improve our sense of wellbeing and happiness.
Termed biophilic design, the incorporation of these elements can relieve stress and refresh our attention capacity, improve our perception of air quality and overall, provide a more enjoyable work experience.
The home office is no different. Bringing plants into your workspace can create a sense of calm and relaxation that will help to improve the work you get done at home as a result.
Finally, flexible movement is essential. Both between spaces and within them, being able to sit, perch, stand and move to different environments enables good posture, attention and sense of vitality. The days of being chained to a desk are long gone, with ergonomics and standing desks like our adjustable Mondo Lypta, a priority for a growing number of businesses, that understand that workplace comfort is crucial to improving worker lives within, and outside office walls.
Buro is proud to have had the back of employers and workers in Australia and New Zealand for over 25 years, designing quality stylish ergonomic office chair ranges that optimise your environment wherever you work. Our quality office chair seating combines intelligent ergonomics and internationally-awarded, human-centred design, for beautiful seating built for almost every purpose, space and body.
For commercial workspaces, the Buro Metro 24/7 and Buro Roma 24/7 are perfect options. Ideal for high-traffic, multi-shift environments they provide round-the-clock support at a range of back support levels for multiple users per day. Whether at a hot desk, co-working space, or standard office desk, the heavy-duty base and 3 lever heavy-duty mechanism with comfortable seat slide delivers superior strength, effortless height adjustments and comfort that will have you or your employees working at your best.
For home, the Buro Mentor is the stylish office chair that will have you settling into hybrid work with ease. Featuring Dynamic Intelligence™ technology that intuitively responds to your weight and organic movement, the Mentor supports optimal posture and active sitting, perfect for home offices, shared spaces or wherever you want to make flexibility and comfort synonymous with work.
So, whether you’re looking for the best office chair design to breathe life into your home office, commercial space, or are looking at how to streamline hybrid work for yourself or your employees, considering your environment is key. Through natural design, residential elements and flexible furniture suited to the spaces it’s intended for, you can make steps towards designing office spaces that help you to truly thrive.