It’s safe to say COVID-19 has transformed office space — definitely for the foreseeable future, and maybe forever. Though many people are still working from home, others have returned to the office, even if only for a few days a week and many spaces look entirely different.
That’s why at CI, and for office design, we focus on safety and comfort but also other elements such as color, textures, and sustainability that will continue into 2021 and beyond.
From design aesthetics such as acoustics and greenery to a greater focus on safe, protected workspaces, we are always looking for ways to maintain a healthy and happy working environment while improving productivity. We invite you to explore the top office design trends for 2021.
1. A Sense of ‘Home’ at Work
Since many people are still currently working from the home, the idea of the design and aesthetic of the office has changed. For those employees who are in the office, the goal is to provide comfort and safety at every level and to make employees feel relaxed as if they were at home.
To foster a safe, comfortable sense of “home” in the office, our designers have incorporated residential elements such as comfortable sofas and chairs, soft lighting features in common spaces, or artwork displayed throughout the office.
2. Flexible, Pod-Area Layouts
Over the years, many companies have embraced the open-concept office design, and now flexible workspaces and “pod-style” layouts are more important than ever.
Now when employees are in the office, they are often seeking private spots or enclaves where they can safely work. These open-office environments also include smaller, private areas and “pod areas” with enough workspace, seating, and outlet access so that employees can make phone calls, participate in video conferences or work on research safely.
These spaces must also easily accommodate employees who may be in the office for just a few days while spending the rest of the week working from home.
3. A Safe, Protected Workspace
In addition to adhering to guidance from MOH, we are rethinking the interior design and layout of the office space in order to provide a safe, protected workspace. While the focus is touchpoints (such as doorknobs and elevator buttons), we are opting for hard surfaces and design elements that can be easily cleaned, sanitized, and maintained. Social distancing signage, hand sanitizing stations, and signs limiting room capacity are also important office additions that make employees feel safe.
When it comes to choosing easy-to-clean office flooring, one option is LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile), which is known for its durability and user-friendly properties. LVT is easy to clean and sanitize, which is exactly the type of functional and practical solution CI is offering for companies in the wake of COVID-19.
4. Lighter Colors
One of the corporate office interior design trends for 2021 that we are using is lighter colors with a mixture of grays, greens, and neutrals (gray being one of the two Pantone Colors of the Year for 2021.) Light wood looks mixed with pops of color on flooring and walls is a popular option in an office environment that can help employees feel more cheerful and positive.
Color helps companies stay on brand, and many find ways to incorporate their logo or brand colors into the design of their space — including colored furnishings, pillows, or even flooring. With LVT, you can even cut into the lobby flooring to prominently display your brand logo. We are also using color in COVID-19 safety signage.
Aside from the company brand, color in flooring can add energy to a workspace. If an office uses an open floor plan, different pops of color are a great way to separate space and improve navigation.
5. More Natural Lighting
One of the big office trends in 2021 is incorporating more natural lighting into the workspace if it’s possible. If you don’t have many windows, consider these other options:
- Use diffused light
- Install artificial lighting that mimics natural lighting
- Plant ground-level trees and shrubs outside windows that can protect against sun glare
Also, matte, non-reflective flooring and wall finishes are popular options, and CI’s designers are considering the light reflective value when selecting design elements. This refers to the amount of light reflected by paint color. The darker the color, the less light it will reflect.
6. Sustainability & Green Options
Many modern office spaces now feature living walls (also known as green walls), which are real gardens and plant displays that are fixed to interior walls. You don’t even have to go as far as a full green wall; many offices are embracing more plants in general. Some spaces don’t have many windows or poor lighting, so incorporating greenery helps to add a bit of nature and bring the outdoors inside. Plus, plants in corporate settings are not only part of the comforting, home-like trend, but they also provide numerous health benefits.
Depending on the type of greenery you choose the perks of adding plant life may also include:
- Increased productivity by 15%
- Improved air quality and oxygen flow
- Reduced toxins in the air from carpets and other office furniture
- Reduced noise
Elsa Zakary, Sustainability Data Manager, and Researcher at CI, has stressed the value of office green spaces for years. “Adding plants to office space has multifaceted benefits. Taking a break from stressful work and tending to plants can have a calming effect on the mind. It also brings workers closer to understanding seasonal variations and their effects on vegetation. This helps promote the sharing of knowledge and experiences which would otherwise not be possible. This kind of understanding and conversation also helps develop an instinct to choose healthy both in terms of living and eating, thus creating an overall healthy lifestyle.”
Elsa also stresses the importance of choosing the right plants in an office space, as specific plants enhance the benefits substantially. She recommends:
- Peace lily
- Snake plant
- Spider plant
- English ivy
- Areca palm or any other palm
- Holy basil or any plant from the sage family
Many of our clients are accepting our advice by incorporating wallcoverings into their spaces, which can be used to showcase history and culture. Any pattern, texture, or color on a wall — a wood design, wallpaper, absorption paneling among other options, and more — can add warmth and dimension to any space. Plus, these hard surfaces can be more easily cleaned and maintained.
We believe at CI that wallcoverings are an incredible design tool for transforming plain offices into places where employees and visitors feel welcome and comfortable. A floor-to-ceiling accent wall can help a stuffy boardroom evolve into a warm meeting space, while a strategically placed backdrop can bring in some much-needed allure. However they are installed, wallcoverings are a beautiful, worthwhile investment.
Another great, easy option for accent walls? LVT. CI’s collection provides a variety of 23 plank design options for an accent wall or other wall surface. The designs mimic stone, wood, and other natural materials, and are neutral enough to work with any color palette. They are also Class A fire rated for wall applications and can be easily cleaned and sanitized. Aside from safety and design benefits, unique wallcoverings also:
- Enhance mood and enthusiasm
- Provide a creative environment to work in
- Add personality to the space
8. Mixing Old & New
Current office designs are pairing old and new design elements together — an inspiring fusion of the past and the present. CI’s designers are opting for retro and geometric patterns, such as chevron and herringbone designs. You can also feature geometric patterns in larger areas, such as flooring and walls; these design patterns can display everything from bright pops of color to muted tones of gray and ivory.
Other trendy “old and new” design elements include brass, industrial retro metals, and stone look. You can also mix different metal finishes for a different design spin.
Pairing old and new elements together has been a growing trend in office design. By mixing old with new, the old design component gives off a warm feeling to balance out the new and modern pieces that are added into space. Whether it’s an area rug with a geometric pattern on top of an original concrete floor or an antique desk with a brightly colored chair, coupling old and new can be done in so many ways.
At CI we are applying the current trends in office design which show an increase in pairing varying textures together, even in furnishings like wood, iron, or stone. Combining different abstract elements and textures that can be easily swapped in and out creates a more unique space and give you diverse design options.
Fun, unique, and eye-catching textiles, fixtures, or flooring can really bring a space to life and brighten up the sometimes-dull office environment.
Products and fixtures that serve dual purposes for office spaces are used by CI’s designers. Many products on the market today are designed for sound reduction, but still complement the overall design theme. You can find at CI, textures, furnishings, wall coverings, and even lighting products designed with acoustics in mind.
The main concern with acoustic solutions or acoustic products (noise reducing products) is the quality of their make-up – how they are built, types of materials, geometry, etc. Sound-reduction efforts, however, start from the ground up. While carpet is a good sound absorption solution, it can hold moisture, dirt, bacteria, mildew, and mold.
At CI, we have decided to apply good quality flooring which is quieter to walk on and aids in muffling the environmental noise that can occur in offices. For example, 5mm Loose Lay LVT has natural sound-reducing qualities because of its overall thickness; it also has multiple designs to choose from. Loose Lay is simple to install and maintain with a specialized backing that provides traction to stay in place freely after installation.
If you’re getting ready to design (or redesign) your office space, contact us to explore our latest ideas for inspiration. We will create unique interior space for you.