Office Reintroduction: Transforming Workspaces into Places People Want to Be

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Nena Martin
Nena Martin
With over 25 years of experience in interior architecture and design, Nena Martin is passionate about both people and design. Nena has successfully led large corporations in creating new headquarters and corporate campuses by managing complex teams and identifying key drivers that impact each organization's business strategy, design approach, and future innovations.

As many employees refamiliarize themselves with hybrid work, DLR Group’s Nena Martin shares three elements of design that we can expect to see in 2024.

The new year brings endless possibilities and an opportunity for reinvention. Many employees may be surprised to find new policies implemented in 2024 as employers shift their focus and enforce stronger and more significant return to office requirements. More than 60% of companies have already implemented a hybrid workplace environment and are pushing for stricter policies that bring their employees back to the office more consistently.

The concept of designing flexible office spaces that support innovation, focus work and collaboration is not exactly new to the workplace, these aspects were already being explored pre-pandemic. This next era of the workplace is about reintroducing employees to all the things that the office can be – fully equipped with all the things that they can’t get from a fully remote setting. The new year offers the chance to design with the end user in mind and create functional spaces that evoke a sense of belonging and support all employees – a reintroduction to what was once so familiar, but now better than ever.

The best experiences, big and small, create unique connections and lasting memories, but also tend to spark a feeling of missing out or “FOMO” for those not able to be in attendance.

When designing an office intentionally and offering purposeful experiences that employees can’t get anywhere else, it makes the decision to come into the office easier and more appealing.

As many employees refamiliarize themselves with the new reality of hybrid work, there are a few elements of design that we can expect to see in 2024:

  • Gathering with a purpose is more valuable to employees when considering how they spend and prioritize their time. Human interaction and sense of community are vital for maximizing productivity and workplace satisfaction. Rather than bringing employees back to the office for the purpose of filling leased space, corporations will find more success by being intentional about when, how and why they bring their employees together. And, for employees who are now based outside of the proximity to the main office, hosting pop-up activations in central cities where many remote employees are based for training and quarterly or annual meetings may help remote employees feel included.
  • Intentional downsizing and adaptive reuse of current office spaces allow companies to transform or scale back their currently leased space and create dedicated spaces for all types of work. From collaboration zones with open space, cafes and comfortable seating to unique focus areas with proper acoustics and the right lighting that allows them to focus without interruption, employees will find comfort in knowing that they have the space and amenities necessary to meet all their needs while in the office.
  • Effective technology that allows for a seamless transition from remote to in-office work is vital. Whether connecting in person, remotely or hosting a meeting that requires capabilities to support a hybrid situation, providing modern, state-of-the-art technology will result in quality engagement across the board.

As designers, it’s important to create “micro-environments” that offer unique work experiences that can’t be replicated outside of the office, like high-end hospitality-inspired amenities, connectivity to nature or an amazing view of the city that surrounds them.

Socializing, mentorship and the sense of community are among the top reasons why employees are motivated to return to the office, but what if we can provide them with something more? This reintroduction to the office allows for companies to reinvent their workspace and provide employees with everything they need to grow, connect, and collaborate.

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