Office design and human needs have not radically changed since the beginning of lockdown. However, Covid-19 has greatly accelerated the trends that were already emerging and employers and designers will need to respond.  


In this article we share some of the key takeaways from the recent Always Thinking ‘Workplace Futures' webinar led by trend forecaster and strategist, Philippa Wagner. During the event, Philippa discussed how we might manage the return to the office, which of the behaviours we have developed over the last 8 weeks will continue and how the head office/co-working space might evolve.


Here are six key points from Philippa’s talk that demonstrate how office design and human behaviour are likely to be impacted by Covid-19.  


1. This is not about finding a new normal but an opportunity to reset an opportunity for businesses to create working practices more fitting to people's needs and expectations in the 21st century. 


2. Space, distance and solitude will be new consumer values, but this does not mean the return of the office cubicle. This is more about offering places and moments of sanctuary and mental reset for people when they are in the office environment, or set days without a plethora of zoom calls when working from home. 


3. While remote working has proved surprisingly effective for many, surveys and research show that a complete lack of face-to-face interaction is something employees struggle with, so it's about bringing your people together when it matters and being flexible to where and when you meet.


4. The power of nature will continue to transform the workplace and wellness expectations. Biophilic design and wellness architecture will enjoy a boom coming partly from consumer demand and new environmental post-pandemic workplace expectations. 


5. The physical office is not dead. This is about re-imagining, not replacing the physical office and overcoming the emotional barriers of digital vs physical. 


6. IRL moments will not happen in the way that they did before - conferences, meetings and corporate events will be more considered and more meaningful. People will travel less for work meaning that you will need to rethink how you communicate and where and when you bring people together physically.


About
Philippa Wagner is a trend forecaster and strategist, most recently heading up 23Lab Ennismore’s innovation lab, a forward-thinking hospitality lab with the sole aim of creating products and experiences for future guests. She has spent 20 years in trend forecasting, shaping the future of the world’s leading brands. Philippa has worked with a range of global clients across hospitality, apparel, food and drink, retail and technology to include Diageo, The NorthFace and Estee Lauder. Prior to joining Ennismore, she was Strategic Insights Director at The Future Laboratory, the world’s leading futures and insight consultancy.


Always Thinking is a Business Development consultancy for people within the built environment. They help clients look at BD differently through creative thinking. Their research-based approach encourages communication through inquisitive questioning, intelligent conversation and client-centric thinking – there is no hard-sell.