A kaleidoscope of colour at Birdies sports and social space
Hidden under the iconic Battersea Power Station train arches, interior architecture studio SHED has created a cocktail bar and playful golf course.
Everyone has been talking a lot about the current situation and what its impact will be on the future of workplaces and how people work. The answers will, of course, manifest over many months and years.
While the impact on company offices and co-working spaces will, at the very least, be an even bigger drive to create the best spaces in order to attract and retain the best working talent, one of the main points will surely be that people regard WFH as a real option now. In the world of workplace interiors, we’ve been hearing about flexible working for many years but very few companies seem to practice it in reality, despite suggesting they do in their marketing.
As we come out of the world’s largest-scale test of working from home, people will begin to use their right to work at home on occasion. And why not, as now we know for real that it can work incredibly well. It will be a relief to people who are on a neurodiverse scale (we all are, but you take my point). It could alleviate some of the stress associated with work such as the commute, noise interruptions, child-care challenges, having tasks dumped on us that aren’t our tasks…we’ve all been there…the effect could be huge if put into practice permanently*. It’s estimated that billions are lost in the UK economy to work absences related to stress. Perhaps that could see a decline, if people begin to take control of their working environment.
* All of these pros alone can be dug into further: Paternity/Maternity leave! Anxiety issues! Diverse workforces! Congestion in cities! Work opportunities for the disabled! Work opportunities in rural areas!
The home office will in turn see a change. Where once only the privileged few had a decent work set-up at home, now more people will be able to realise a healthy workstation. Once lockdown is lifted and we return to the alma office, chairs and laptop stands will begin to make their way to employee’s homes. Companies will offer WFH packages in their recruitment that include the latest in office developments, from height-adjustable desks and laptop stands to ergonomic mice and chairs. Maybe government-backed ‘cycle to work’ schemes will be copy/pasted into ‘WFH ergonomically’ schemes, with employers paying for people’s home office set up in tax-efficient instalments for PAYE staff?
This will bring about a BIG change for the office furniture industry. The shroud will be lifted to the wider public: not often acknowledged in our circles is the fact that most people have no idea who the biggest manufacturers in office furniture are. Or who our biggest design icons are. Ask almost any person on the high street who Tom Dixon, Charles Eames or Le Corbusier are and they would likely stare at you blankly.
But that’s about to change. Next CDW will see footfall from the UK’s biggest and best high street department stores and furniture retailers, all looking to find the manufacturer that will add an attractive option to their home office departments. Where once we were given a single plinth on the shop floor, now we will see the carefully planned Clerkenwell showrooms mimicked for couples ambling around a shopping centre, coffee in hand. CEOs will argue with CFOs over which chair they roll out to their employees based on reviews in Which? mag. People will brag at the pub about their new desk lamp and argue the toss between mesh and fully upholstered backs. Everyone will become an expert.
We have our work cut out now, so brace yourselves.
Inspiration for your next read
The last in our series on how the current crisis will affect the commercial interiors (and wider) world, we’ve asked a number of leading end users and workplace experts to offer their opinions on where we’re likely to find ourselves post-COVID.
Angela Bardino, Design Principal at leading professional services firm, Jacobs, examines employees’ impact on both immediate business and subsequent end user groups.
Donna Hannaway, Marketing Segment Manager (Offices) at Forbo Flooring Systems, considers the transition back to the office. One thing is obvious - it won't be business as usual. So how do we adapt our workplaces for the 'new normal'?