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In 2021, “Flexibility” Will be key

Gone are the days where activities are compartmentalized, space is singular-use and the work day is done at 5pm. If there is anything we have learned over the past 12 months living through a global pandemic, it’s that there has been, and will continue to be, a paradigm shift in the way people think, plan, organize, live and work.

As we move into 2021, the theme of flexibility, both in terms of workspace and time management, will be key in ensuring high employee engagement, productivity and retention of top talent. Are you ready?

As you prepare to welcome your workforce back to the office once the general population has been inoculated and it is safe to return, here are some ideas to consider for incorporation into the design of your team’s new “new normal” workspace evolution:

Using the workspace as a place to gather.  Since March 2020, we have been living in our own insular bubbles which can be lonely and isolating. For many, these bubbles do not allow for collaborative interaction, social networking or nurturing a corporate culture and identity – no matter how strong your internet speed or how bright your ring light. Once we have the ability to gather again, provide your teams a workspace that has been designed to allow for formal and informal team work, innovative brainstorm sessions and simple friendly banter. Working collaboratively and simply being together will rekindle individuals’ sense of belonging, identity, worth and value.

Modular solutions for a modular world.  As companies review their real estate and workforce needs, many will opt for smaller footprints in order to reduce expenses and get rid of unused space.  This change will require that furniture is flexible and multi-purpose, with the ability to scale up or down at a moment’s notice.  Modular furniture can do just that: adapt a space so that it can be reconfigured quickly to accommodate various activities and events in a just-in-time manner.

Upgrade your conference room video call capabilities.  With the prevalence of Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, etc., it will be important that your conference rooms are equipped and ready to go with all the necessary elements to ensure seamless internet connection, video and call capabilities are in place.  Smart room bookings and occupancy detection will be ubiquitous tools to make sure that space and resources are being used efficiently.

Bring the outdoors in.  Biophilic design incorporates greenery, natural light and sustainable materials as people seek a closer connection to nature. Studies have shown that integrating biophilia into office design can increase productivity, happiness and engagement and reduce absenteeism – all factors that directly impact a company’s performance. Additional side benefits of biophilic elements in a workspace are the improvement of air quality, help with noise reduction and the creation of a beautiful, healthy work environment in which to work and socialize.

House comforts. Amid the ongoing pandemic, not all staff will feel comfortable returning to the office, particularly when they can be productive at home.  An emerging trend going into 2021 will be that the home office is here to stay!   For those who continue to work from home, make sure that your employees have the right set up, both from a furnishings (desk, chair, filing system) and IT perspective.   If some employees do decide to come back to the office in person, workplaces will need to offer similar levels of comfort, security and safety that working from home affords – namely, clean, open and airy spaces that are physically distanced and comfortable.  We have already seen a shift in design that blurs the line between home and office comforts, including fully equipped kitchen and breakout areas that replicate the home setting. This blurring will become even more prominent moving forward.

While the past year was challenging in some of the most trying of ways, businesses around the world have shown strength and resilience in adapting like never before.  With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout now underway and hope on the horizon, we will soon welcome back our teams and clients to boardrooms, collaboration spaces and team hubs.  The time is now to evolve our design thinking in order to transform traditional offices into exciting and beautiful spaces for multi-discipline collaboration, team building and social interaction.


In 2021, flexibility will be key.  Are you ready?

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