THE way we work has changed. Gone forever are nine to five days spent in a specified location. With more of us returning to the office and balancing this with time spent working at home or remotely in co-working venues, designers are creating workplaces that support wellbeing and facilitate collaboration and creativity to alter the working experience and lure back employees.
Fleur Carson, commercial sales director of Karndean Designflooring, says incorporating lessons learnt in the hospitality industry, workplaces are increasingly offering a welcoming style with a home from home feel. Design elements that provide a meaningful experience are centred around human connection and link the interior to the local natural environment and cultural history.
Fleur says: ‘Traditional office looks have been replaced by a more resimercial style with casual break-out zones and cosy seating areas ideal for informal discussions. Dividing larger open plan offices into meeting spaces and quieter zones will help employees re-establish a sense of professionalism, spend time concentrating on individual work, collaborate with colleagues and take time out to relax.’
With fewer people in the office at the same time, space previously required to give everyone an individual desk can be reallocated to combine shared hot desks with more informal seating areas where employees can meet with colleagues to discuss projects or to brainstorm new ideas.
‘Subtle changes in materials can usefully communicate suggested uses for these different spaces,’ says Fleur. ‘For example, colour choices can inspire concentration, increase energy or encourage imagination and playfulness. Changes in flooring can unobtrusively demarcate boundaries between activity zones. For example, combining wood and stone design flooring in geometric patterns can give different areas their own distinct personality while also providing enough continuity to blend effortlessly into the overall interior design.’
To ensure the safety of employees returning to the office and ongoing infection control, it will be beneficial to design for a degree of social distancing, says Fleur. ‘Flooring designs that enable visitors find their way around and reduce aimless wondering around an open plan office can be effectively created with a change in tone or laying pattern.
‘In corridors or walkways, the use of a herringbone pattern provides subtle directional clues and can encourage employees to use these routes through desks and seating areas rather than cutting through colleagues’ personal spaces. Here softer textures and a less defined pattern will give a more restful feel and aid concentration over longer periods.’
Fleur continues: ‘The unrivalled flexibility of Karndean flooring offers designers the opportunity to create unexpected bespoke designs that inspire creativity and innovation.
Whether taking inspiration from the angular nature of the building itself for a geometric industrial style or the organic curves of nature with a biophilic design, bespoke designs will help reflect the personality of the business and its unique brand.
‘These can range from combining complementary or contrasting planks or tiles to create a chequerboard or random pattern to a unique design with hand-cut tiles for a look that stands out for all the right reasons. With Karndean, the only limit is imagination!’