How a future-of-work architect advises companies to redesign their work environments to get employees back to the office

By Rebecca Knight | 3 min

Office design matters when it comes to employee productivity. The following article explains the importance of a positive employee experience and how technology can greatly impact the return to work.

  • Leonora Georgeoglou is an architect at HED and an expert on future-of-work office design.
  • She said that future offices will focus less on individual spaces and more on communal areas. 
  • The office must be a destination, she said. "When employees come in, it's to have an experience."

What makes an office great? Or perhaps a more apt phrasing for this post-pandemic moment might be: What makes an office a productive, inviting, and, at the very least, tolerable place to do work?

It's a question many employers are asking themselves today as the tug-o-war over returning to the office continues.  

"When the COVID first hit, a lot of companies extended their leases because they didn't know what was happening and they didn't want to rush into anything," said Leonora Georgeoglou, an architect and future-of-work design expert at HED, the architecture firm. "As the pandemic has eased, they're now at a point where they're asking us to rethink everything." 

Recent surveys show that while employees value flexibility and prefer working from home most days, many people want to spend at least some time at the office. Research from LinkedIn suggests that "in-person collaboration" and "socializing with colleagues and clients" are among the biggest draws. 

As a result, many employers are renovating and redesigning their staid, stodgy offices to be more conducive to teamwork and collaboration, according to Georgeoglou. "They're asking: How do we create a space that supports our culture, our brand, and creates community?" 

Amid a chronic labor shortage, the redesigns have profound implications for both the workforce and employers. Research from Gartner shows that employees who are satisfied with their work environments are more productive, more likely to stay, and more attracted to their company over competitors. Meanwhile, many CEOs worry that too much remote work could dent innovation. Research from Microsoft suggests that reduced interaction between team members could hurt creativity long-term

"Companies need people in the room together sparking ideas and brainstorming," she said. "That's what makes innovation happen."

Insider recently spoke with Georgeoglou about how offices are changing and what that may mean for the future of work.

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

What are some of the biggest office design trends you're seeing right now?

There's more we-space and less me-space, and by that I mean there's much less of a focus on individual spaces and a much greater one on communal areas. 

Before the pandemic, offices were open, dense, and noisy places. You'd see people sitting at tables with headphones on if they need to do concentrated work. But now when people need to do work like that, they do it at home, where they can be more productive. 

Today people need to have a variety of collaborative spaces: small team rooms where three or four people can come together in-person and connect to a computer and bring in a colleague who's remote; large, open spaces that can be used for all-hands meetings, trainings, and events; and other communal spaces that are flexible and can be converted for a variety of purposes.

 

This article was written by Rebecca Knight from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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