November 2020 marked 11 years since Ben Gillam founded Thirdway. To pay homage, we’ve reflected on the changes we’ve seen in the office fit-out industry in that time, the purpose they serve and what the future holds.
it’s all about the people
‘Back of house’ has become ‘front of house’. Traditionally hidden areas like kitchens and staff break areas are now front and centre of modern HQs. They are client-facing spaces offering a window into a company’s culture and the people working ‘behind the scenes’ to make amazing things happen
Clients want spaces that work for their people – physically, socially and psychologically. More than just a functional environment for process and output, a workplace that puts wellbeing first can expect good things as a result. CEOs tend to see the value in space as an engagement platform for staff and focus more on the long–term benefits to their bottom line.
the future is hybrid
The demand for flexibility is far, far greater. Not just in how an office looks and functions, but also how it can be leased to enable a company to flex with market needs, economic factors, and global health crises!
People are no longer tied to PCs at desks, nor the workplace for that matter. Covid-19 has shaken up the way we work and spearheaded a new, hybrid way of working which looks like it’s here to stay.
2020 has made sure that even the most technophobic can’t imagine a future of work without video conferencing. It’s also highlighted the challenges of VC’ing in open-plan space. Floorplates are pivoting to accommodate more booths and quiet meeting areas that support tech and strategic acoustics.
Working environments are becoming more holistically flexible too. Walls on wheels help to flex and shape meeting rooms according to headcount and required social distancing.
The digital workplace is quickly becoming safer and smarter. This has already prompted us to work and collaborate in new and more efficient ways and will continue to push boundaries in the coming years.
homing from work
The office used to be outside of social culture – it was simply the place you went to work. Now it embraces and replicates the things we experience outside of work, with designs echoing boutique hotels and café culture. Having spent much of 2020 in our homes, offices are beginning to adopt the things we loved most about home-working and bring residential design into the office to stay.
change beyond the workplace
As the climate changes, so do the fundamentals of both design and architecture. Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) is now seen as a crucial part of designing more efficient, resourceful and high-performance buildings that suit both people and planet.
With many companies and individuals more proactively seeking sustainability, we are seeing people adopt new ways of working and travelling to and from the office, in turn affecting building and office design to include things like bicycle storage and shower facilities.
a decade to come
While covid-19 has taught us that we don’t always need to be in the office, we have also realized that, given the choice, many of us choose to be there at least some of the time. The next ten years of office design will be the most exciting we’ve ever known with a focus not just on function and aesthetic but also on technology, flexibility, sustainability, mental wellbeing, diversity, and social connection.