The changing face of the workplace

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A lot has changed in the world of work since the Pandemic.

After all those years working from home we’re starting to see big companies announce that people will be required to be in the office so many days a week. However, the way we use the office has changed since those pre-Covid days.

In the past, people clocked in, did their eight hours at the office, and then clocked out and off they went back home. What I’ve noticed is that there’s a definite shift in the way people are working, and therefore how people are designing the office workspace.

It made me ask the question, what would the perfect building look like from the point of view of staff returning to the office? What is it that would really make it a great place to work? Here are a few of the things I’ve seen.


Biophilia basically means introducing plants to the workplace. It’s an increasingly popular way of bringing the outside in and creating a more welcoming environment.

Plants are known to increase morale and creativity among staff, apart from the fact that they provide cleaner air and a more relaxing atmosphere. So biophilia is definitely an area that has been picking up. What you’ll see is things called living walls, where they actually build a wall in the office and that wall will actually have water irrigation system built into it, and there will be pockets or little buckets of soil so that the plants can actually grow on the vertical surface. It looks great, although it can take quite a bit of management to look after.

Standing Desks

Standing desks are something that I personally really buy into, because I find that sometimes I’m much more productive or efficient when I’m standing rather than sitting at a desk. You can buy really expensive ones that have electric motors that lift up and down at the touch of a button.

Other ones have winding devices and so they’re obviously not as expensive, but standing desks are a big thing and obviously it’s good for your health to stand more!

Brainstorming booths

Brainstorming booths are really interesting. These are, I won’t call them soundproof booths, but they definitely have kind of a fabric and often they’ll have a ceiling or a roof over them. They’re little places that team members can get away from their own desk to have an intimate meeting where you can sit across the desk from somebody, chat away and have a collaborative brainstorming session. I’ve installed one of them in one of our buildings at Eastpoint and it is really popular.

Coffee docks

The next thing we’re seeing is coffee docks. These are completely separate to the canteen in larger offices. A coffee dock is an area is another kind of breakout space. So it becomes something akin to a social area – it’s essentially replaced the water cooler!

Personal storage lockers

One of the policies that I’m seeing in a lot of buildings now is that they’re moving towards what’s known as the agile workplace. It means that you’re expected to get up and clear your desk so that somebody else can then come along later to use it. With that in mind, businesses now need to provide storage lockers.

Not everybody is fond of the agile workplace concept. People like to have their own space where they can sit down and make it their own. But that’s starting to be done away with. The agile workplace is basically somewhere that doesn’t have enough desks for the people employed in the business. That’s not bosses cutting corners, it’s based on the fact that at any one time, something like 20% of the workforce is never actually physically present in the building at the same time as everyone else, when you take holiday and sickness absence into account.

Because of that, what we’re seeing is (eg) 80 desks for a hundred people working there. Management may have a fixed desk (or perhaps an office), but the people that may be going out on calls would not have a fixed desk. They would come and go and take a hot desk as they go: those are the people that would have a locker system so they don’t have to bring everything with them whenever they leave the office – they can unload their stuff and keep their belongings there for when they are at a desk.

The social aspect

Nowadays people can do a lot of their work sitting at their kitchen table at home. So concentration and quiet work is not necessarily needed at the office any more, and the reason you go in is to collaborate and socialise with your work colleagues.

That’s really important from a cultural point of view. A company needs the loyalty of its staff, and you may not feel as loyal if you don’t have a group of friends to miss when you’re not at the office. So obviously managers and HR staff see the importance of having the social spaces. Now instead of having row after row of desk, you’re more likely to see these breakout areas where staff can sit and chill out.

I’m also seeing more town hall areas. Now, as I mentioned, getting together with your team is becoming more and more important for the big employers who are trying to recruit and retain staff. One of the reasons so many of the big companies are starting to insist on people coming back to the office is because they have noticed either damage to the company culture (and so there’s less people feeling loyalty to the business), but also productivity has been suffering in some ways.

Hence these town hall areas. A lot of the time that’ll have bleacher seating, those seats that can be pulled out from the wall and then pushed back – these spaces double up as collaborative spaces, breakout areas, but also when the boss wants to kind of have an “all hands on deck” kind of meeting, or a town hall as it’s called, they can grab them together.

Do you think I’ve missed anything? What would you like to see in your workplace that would make being onsite more fun for you? Let me know in the comments!