Figures suggest that despite the many changes to working practices, demand for offices in and around London has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Global property advisor CBRE estimates that there has been a 150% increase in the take-up of office space in Central London between mid-June 2021 and the same point this year.
But what will workplaces look like in the year ahead? Here Thames Contracts, who provide office design and build services in Stevenage, as well as other parts of Hertfordshire and London, predicts what the key features of offices will be in 2023.
The record July temperatures in the UK and the floods in Pakistan, both this year, show that climate change and global warming are genuine threats. As a result business owners, employees and clients are increasingly conscious about criteria such as carbon footprints and net-zero targets.
This is reflected in the likely choices when it comes to office design, such as choosing sustainable materials (for example, wood) or long-lasting materials that won’t need replacing as often (for example, brass and copper fittings). This goes all the way down to a micro level to include items such as energy-saving light bulbs.
Biophilia and Circadian Rhythms
Circadian rhythms are the body’s internal processes that repeat themselves every 24 hours, covering things like our bowel movements, blood pressure, body temperature and alertness levels.
Our circadian rhythms are in part a response to the environment we live in and office designers recognise that for us to work at our best the working environment needs to be as natural as possible. For this reason, offices and workplaces are being designed with as much natural light as possible (large windows and skylights) and softer lighting where artificial illumination is required (not harsh neon strip lighting).
It also means incorporating biophilic design principles as much as possible. This design principle places an emphasises on a connection with nature. So staff should be encouraged to have plants on their desk or there could be communal greenery (such as a living wall) which everyone can benefit from.
There has been a return to the office in the past year following the easing of coronavirus restrictions. However, while demand for offices may have increased, the number of people using them on any given day has gone down. The overall occupancy rate was between 60-80% before the pandemic, but now the figure in London is around 30%.
This means there are a lot of staff who started working from home during the pandemic (out of necessity) who are happy to continue to do so for the better work-life balance it brings them. All of this means there is in turn a greater need to either be flexible with the existing office space, as on any given day there may be some people in and not others.
At Thames, we specialise in providing glass office partitioning in London and Hertfordshire. Glass partitioning maximises the different ways in which your office space can be used, such as creating boardrooms or breakout areas which can vary from day to day or week to week.
It’s not just about conference calls and Zoom, although this trend is likely to continue in the post-pandemic era. Technology can be used for so much more. Offices are now looking towards sensors to monitor air quality, smart lighting that adjusts itself automatically throughout the course of the working day to mimic the path of the sun, and other high-tech devices. In this period of hybrid working, many employers are also now operating a desk booking system to give everyone an idea of who will be physically present in the office on any given day.
Clever Use of Colour
Office designers have worked out that different colours can have different effects on employees. Bright colours on the walls can encourage creativity, regardless of whether it’s paint, wallpaper or works of art.
However, this may not be suitable in all cases. For instance, various studies have shown that if you want greater concentration then choose neutral colours such as white or blue (which lowers blood pressure and slows down the heart rate) or green (which relieves stress). These types of colours should improve concentration and productivity.
Office Design and Build in Stevenage from Thames Contracts
Whatever type of office design services you need (a complete refit, a partial refurbish, or a design and build) Thames Contracts can provide it. We also have a reputation for creating high-quality workplaces on time and on budget.
If you would like to know more, follow this link and fill in the online form. Alternatively, you can give us a call directly on 020 8368 0045.