I never thought I’d say it, but I kind of miss going to the office. Working from home does have its advantages, of course: no stress about picking up my kids from school while I’m stuck on a bus that’s sitting in traffic; I can take my new puppy out for walks during my lunch break (which actually gives me a reason to get away from my desk for a few minutes—usually I forget!); and let’s not minimize the joy of being able to work in leggings and a tattered t-shirt from some random 5K.
It is much more difficult to interact with colleagues and clients. Virtual meetings are great but also mentally draining. And you certainly don’t get the camaraderie—no water-cooler talk about sports or celebrity gaffes or the weather. Did you ever imagine missing talking about the weather?
Offices remain either empty or partially occupied. But developers aren’t giving up on the sector. And though many companies still have across-the-board work-from-home policies, major players, such as Facebook, are signing new leases for office space.
However, it’s clear that office design can’t remain static if owners have any hope of luring tenants back. For example, open floorplans, which were all the rage for years, might be less appealing now. After all, one innocent sneeze from a coworker next to you, and out would come the Lysol, the wipes and certainly the glares.
In his article about office design, Greg Isaacson reveals that developers are leaning into features that were gaining steam even before the pandemic. Wellness, sustainability and entertainment spaces to encourage socialization are high on the list.
Unsurprisingly, current events are also influencing new office design.
“Outdoor space is going to be bigger and more important than it was pre-COVID-19,” David Falk of Newmark Knight Frank told Isaacson.
Developers are also addressing some of the not-so-great aspects of pre-pandemic office life, such as long and stressful commutes. The inclusion of bike rooms and dedicated bike entrances makes it easier for those who prefer to get some exercise rather than be a sardine in a crowded subway car.
The most important aspect of today’s office design is flexibility and room for adaptability. That, and a water cooler, of course.