The truths of the pandemic may feel trite by now, but they’re still salient: global events lead to global change. Our office spaces are no exception.
According to one report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, about 70% of firms, from small businesses to large corporations, will go hybrid, having workers combine time in-office with working from home. These changes will precipitate new design challenges and big changes for working spaces, changes that will require inventive thinking by the contract design community.
What are trends we should anticipate for 2022? Read on to learn more.
Comforts of home will be brought into the office.
People have grown accustomed to the creature comforts of a work-from-home day. The work spaces of the future will prioritize accommodations that help employees feel a sense of coziness in their space. Plush carpeting, soft seating options, and amenities that allow staff to complete personal tasks during their workday (like dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off) will be in demand.
Cold, one-dimensional open designs will be left behind.
Open workspaces—where employees sit, partition-free, in cafeteria-like conditions—foster more distraction than productivity. The work spaces of 2022 and beyond provide equal opportunities for collaboration and private, focused work—recognizing that both can’t happen successfully in the same space.
Transparency will grow into a necessity.
People want to know the materials you’re using are healthy and safe; they care about what they’re surrounded by. The floor is one of the largest surfaces in the workspace and also the only one you have to touch. At Mohawk Group’s flagship showroom in New York City, for example, Declare labels are akin to nutrition labels, communicating in writing every raw material used.
Sustainability will continue to be a priority.
The environmental impact of materials matters to employees as much as designers. Mohawk Group is the largest recycler in the flooring industry, using recycled content in more than 500 products and offering customers accessible ways to recycle carpet themselves—and convert plastic bottles into Everstrand carpet. These are the types of materials and commitments businesses will continue to demand in their design choices.
Noise control will be optimized.
Flooring shouldn’t just look great, it should be a key player in ensuring associates can thrive in the acoustics of their working environment. Mohawk Group’s attached cushion for carpet has been tested and rated as the top performer in terms of sound transmission—but even hard surfaces need to play a role. Look for tiles with inherent acoustic properties, like Mohawk Group’s luxury vinyl tile Hot and Heavy Collection.
Bringing nature inside will be more important than ever.
Biophilia—the innate human desire to be close to nature—isn't achieved with repetitive rows of workstations, ceiling lights, and monitors. It takes a thoughtful investment in increasing access to natural light and adding more natural materials and textures, like wood and plants, and patterns inspired by the environment around us.
Get familiar with fractals.
The intricate patterns that occur in nature—called fractals—have been shown in scientific studies to instantly soothe us. The stress-reducing benefits can be harnessed through design. It’s one reason Mohawk Group worked with University of Oregon physics professor Richard Taylor and Austrian firm 13&9 to create the Relaxing Floors system.
Flexibility and control will enhance performance.
Employees want to feel their space empowers them with options: unassigned desks, café areas, lounge style seating areas, formal conference rooms and relaxed gathering spaces. Designers will need to create spaces that give workers the freedom and flexibility to choose where and with whom they complete their work based on the task. Flooring and furniture can help delineate these areas.
The design demands of the future have one key payoff for employers: more engaged, productive employees. People need and want in-person connection—they just want it to happen in spaces that entice and invite them in.
Interested in exploring the future of hybrid workspaces? Sign up for “Surviving to Thriving: A Paradigm Shift in Shaping Hybrid Environments,” Mohawk Group’s free, accredited CEU being offered in June and October 2021.
By Mark Oliver
Vice President, Product Management, Mohawk Group