Professionals have gradually started to trickle back into their offices after being at home full-time for quite a while, and it seems as if the commercial workplace will not be the same as it was before. Many employees report they are excited to return to the office and regain a sense of so-called normality, but some things might be different. Office space rentals layouts are expected to change, some companies might impose a capacity limit, the way people work and interact may differ, and the amenities and perks provided in an office may be new. Let’s take a look at some office trends for 2022.
Most notably, it seems as if companies are already implementing hybrid workplaces nationwide, including those that have been given the approval to reopen at full capacity. When offices first got shut down in the Spring of 2020, many employees dreaded having to work from home every single day, but it seems as if a large portion of them were pleasantly surprised with how well the transition went. Instead of having every employee come into the office every day, many companies are now expected to make use of a hybrid system so employees can work from home some days and come into the office other days.
Companies will have to determine the proper hybrid schedules for their offices in 2022, which may end up being a collective decision by their employees. Those who struggle working from home due to distractions and lack of interaction may want to be in the office more than those who have found they can be even more productive at home. Of course, some people would prefer to continue working from home every day, but many recent surveys have shown that respondents would like some form of hybrid workplace. This could include coming into the office a few times a week when scheduled or being able to make the decision on a day-to-day basis. It is expected that companies will come to some sort of down-the-middle approach when it comes to the hybrid workplace model.
Prior to the pandemic, perks like pizza Fridays were a great incentive for employees. Now, not so much. Instead, employees are interested in things like employee discounts at stores and restaurants, greater vacation flexibility, more flexible hours, and more gratitude for the work they do. Many companies had extremely profitable quarters throughout the past year and a half, so the employees will likely seek to be rewarded more even though they are not in the office full time. Ultimately, the workplace will probably see fewer parties and company-wide gatherings in 2022, as employees will likely want different perks.
Communication and Collaboration
One of the chief complaints regarding the sudden work-from-home requirement for many people is that it took away in-person connections and, in some cases, reduced the productiveness of collaborations. Brainstorming and executing business plans and transactions are just not the same on platforms like Skype or Zoom, so offices may reopen with the goal of welcoming more connections instead of simply being a place people go to work in an isolated cube. The concept of a “team” may become more prominent than before, with large office rooms being used more or offices offering “hoteling,” which can be used solely when needed for meetings and conferences.
Keep in mind, however, that while collaboration may increase for meetings, there will likely also be protective measures taken in offices on a daily basis. Many employees will still be more comfortable practicing social distancing and limiting the use of shared items such as coffee makers and microwaves, regardless of local guidelines and laws. Office managers will need to respect their employees’ desires and make sure everyone is kept as safe as possible. Of course, regular cleaning and maintenance will likely be an even bigger deal than it was before, too.
Many respondents in recent surveys regarding working from home indicate they enjoy not having a daily commute, especially those who have to drive far and/or encounter heavy traffic on their way to and from work. Many companies are doing serious research into how “decentralizing” can help them, as having multiple smaller offices may be more beneficial than one centralized headquarters. Doing this could both reduce employees’ commute complaints as well as accommodate employees in more remote or suburban locations who would prefer to work in an office setting.
Designs and Amenities
The concept of protecting our mental health became drastically more prominent throughout the pandemic, and many people working from home implemented ways to reduce their stress while continuing to churn out work productively. Workplaces may be inclined to change their office decor to make the office brighter and more mood-boosting than before. Brighter lighting and larger windows are believed to be more beneficial to us in general, and the workplace is no different. Some companies may also decide to implement other self-care techniques like aromatherapy, candles, or occasional massages for employees.
The layout of offices may change, too, as many employees working from home have appreciated not having to stare at a blank wall 40+ hours a week. Shifting workspaces away from the wall may give employees a more open vibe, which may increase workplace satisfaction. Throughout 2020 and 2021, many employees discovered having greenery in their makeshift workplaces helped them a lot, so offices may start to decorate more with indoor flowers, shrubs, and trees. It is important to note, however, that the majority of in-office employees will still want access to a private workspace when needed.
Improving office designs and making offices more inviting to visitors is more crucial than ever as companies start to return to work and in-person gatherings. Office managers may want to change the color, furniture, and decor of common spaces and waiting areas to make them more welcoming and comfortable for everyone involved. As time goes on and people begin making use of office space again, expect office appearance to continue changing.
Office Trends Conclusion
Ultimately, a significant portion of the workforce was required to shift to an at-home model in 2020, and while a fraction of employees thoroughly enjoyed the switch, many were not completely satisfied. Therefore, offices are expected to reopen and accommodate employees and their preferences, which includes changing schedules, layouts, and amenities that they feel will help them be more productive.