Even if you haven’t returned to your physical office yet and are still working remotely, chances are, someday soon, you’ll be going back to your workspace. Whether it’s this year or the next, many people are preparing to return to work — but pandemic office trends look a little different than they did in a pre-COVID world. Social distancing, face masks, and the highest level of cleanliness have become the precedents. And trying to crowd 25 people into a small conference room for a meeting is likely a thing of the past.
With that in mind, 2021 office trends will have a slightly different look than trends have in previous years. Concepts such as open spaces, movable furniture, and comfortability are norms, while offices that mimic Apple’s famous commercial from 1984 are out. Read on to learn more about office ideas that are trending upward as we approach 2021 and how to implement them into your workspace.
The Concept of the Open Space
Even before anyone had heard of the novel coronavirus, the open space concept was trending upward. More and more employers in recent years have been opting for an open space concept for a few different reasons. The spacious look of the office instantly gives it an overall welcoming and friendly vibe and feeling. It also genuinely fosters more communication between employer and employee or manager and employee because of the philosophy behind it. Because everyone is working in an equal space that looks variably the same, with the exception of personal decor, there is not that feeling of being subordinate. This can help employees feel more collaborative and part of a team.
Considering that we are in the midst of a pandemic, there are health benefits to the open space concept too. There is more natural light, and while that’s not enough to get your daily dose of vitamin D, it’s a mood enhancer compared to dreary office lighting that seems akin to being in a basement. With open office space, desks are easily six feet apart from one another to meet social distancing requirements. While the open space concept itself won’t change, individual concepts may look different in many offices. Prepare to see things such as the return of the (new and improved) cubicle, mobile dividers that can move with you if you need to switch workstations, privacy screens, and privacy boxes or “pods.” Many of these items can also be rented, and rental office furniture is a sustainable option that is also a valid, trending pattern for 2021.
Sustainability in the Office of the Future
Conscientious companies are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint in an era where we worry about climate change and global warming. While designs with employee safety in mind remain a top trend of 2021, sustainability and eco-responsibility remain prominent in many business owners’ minds. This is reflected in many different avenues. Perhaps they have opted for the use of natural woods or materials to foster sustainable design and decor within the office environment. The business may be using renewable energy, ensuring they use fair trade products. Or they may be concerned about recycling.
There are many ways for an office to participate in sustainability or use sustainable products, including the rental of furniture for the office. Approximately 12.2 tons of furniture and carpeting were dumped into landfills in 2017. A good way to bypass buying and tossing office furniture when it’s worn out is to rent office furniture. It’s a perfect way to reuse and put forth sustainability efforts, while also still keeping other trends in mind that you may want to achieve, such as open-office or industrial concepts.
Using Movable Furniture
Using movable and modular furniture can help employees feel more comfortable and can be part of the open space concept, depending on the design concept that you have in mind for the overall workspace. Mobile furniture can refer to different types of office furniture that you can take with you wherever you need to work in the office. These include pieces of furniture such as desks and chairs on wheels, but they can also include other things, such as movable partitions and walls. These can be incredibly important if you need to create a space that’s six feet apart quickly or if you simply want to change workstations. Use movable office decor as well, which allows you to change workstations or areas so you can work where you feel comfortable or find a quiet zone if you need one. Not only can this promote safety, but it’s also a good idea to promote efficiency and productivity.
Designing in the Open Space
So, perhaps you have the open space concept down, and you like the idea of it, but you’re not sure how to incorporate that into your office or what the idea looks like on paper. Of course, it’s going to look very different for the type of office and industry you’re in, and who’s approving the designing, but there are a few concepts that simply go well with the open space frame of mind. So, while you don’t want to mimic Apple’s 1984 commercial with mindless drones staring at a screen, industrial concepts do work well within the open space.
The industrial design doesn’t have to feel dominant and sad; instead, it can be eye-catching and full of light. Think of exposed materials, such as pipes or beams, worn textures, and rusty or silver-finished fixtures. These concepts do work well in older offices where these elements are naturally in existence, but if your office was built more recently, that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t work. You can still opt for the industrial and open space concept with large windows and alternating styles of metal and wood.
Another trend for 2021, which goes along with sustainability in design, such as natural woods and materials in design, is bringing in nature. This goes a bit beyond having a faux potted plant in the corner. You may want to add a tree to the center of the office or a plant-wall installation to one wall of the office in an open space concept while using individual plants for other concepts. You don’t have to choose the same style of plants or trees, and not everything has to match, just like with nature.
Using minimalist and modern office furniture is another office idea that is trending up. While you, of course, want the furniture to be comfortable, the Danish modern or minimalist look can be sleek, especially in an open office or with industrial decor. This type of furniture also pairs well with offices that have glass or glass-blown partitions.
A Home-Like Atmosphere
As many office workers are returning to the office from working at home after an extended period, the transition could be a bit bumpy. Many offices are working on a hybrid schedule, where personnel will still work from home one or two days per week. Offering a home-like atmosphere is another 2021 trend. This was trending upward prior to the pandemic, and you may have seen some corners of office spaces turned into coffee bars with stools and coffee tables with sofas. But with social distancing in mind, this may look a little different for 2021.
If you’re trying to create a comfortable lounge area, focus on single-seating arrangements. Comfortable furniture such as bean bag chairs are a bit too casual, but comfortable chairs that offer the same vibe are great. Instead of the standard lunch room or breakroom, lounge areas also give employees a chance to relax, put on headphones, eat lunch, and “clock out” for a few moments. Bringing a home-like atmosphere into the office, without being too casual, has its merits. If you’re struggling with design concepts or need ideas, furniture, and decor rental is a viable choice.
Implementing Leisure Spaces
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, more and more employers were incorporating leisure spaces into the office, such as installing game rooms, complete with pinball machines, air hockey, and pool tables. In the era of social distancing, however, those ideas have to be paused, to a degree. It’s inevitable that workers are returning to work, so what employers can do is make office spaces more accessible to their workers. Everyone will need a place to heat up food, take a break, and have a moment to relax on their break. Break rooms are the obvious spaces, but if they’re not available, conference rooms can be transformed into interim break rooms with social distancing and safety in mind. The pandemic has been tough on everyone, so allowing employees a space to have a break when they need it, while keeping safety in mind, is imperative. Remember that mobile furniture can be moved throughout the office, so what is leisure space today can be a conference room tomorrow.
The Agile Workspace
The agile workspace can meld easily with an open space concept. Setting up an agile workspace refers to dynamic spaces and flexible spaces that essentially allow workers to move freely about the office, depending on what is required of them at the moment and what the team is working on. Agile as a study is very much team-focused, so this type of workspace sets up “zones” throughout the office, such as the brainstorming zone, collaborative zone, quiet zone, and meeting zone. Of course, “zones” look different for every company, but all must take into consideration social distancing needs. An agile workspace remains a top office trend for 2021.
When you want a sustainable design with furniture and decor that’s tailored to fit your specific needs, CORT Furniture Rental can help. Along with offering furniture to fit your post-COVID office space, we can also outfit you with workspaces, decor, ideas, or conference room setups to help your business succeed in 2021.