Inclusive Design is Key to the Future Office

As the modern office continues to evolve post-pandemic, it’s important for designers and specifiers to remain aware of trends and how to cater to workers as they return to the office. Numerous studies show that knowledge workers prefer working from home at least two days per week, and it’s the number one benefit employees look for when seeking a job. Based on this, the comfort and amenities of a hybrid workplace are more important than ever when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Forward-thinking designers are carefully considering how to create various inclusive spaces beyond the open office where employees can focus, brainstorm in small groups, collaborate in larger groups, or just relax. The open office that we all know, was evolving even before the pandemic to address these trends. Now, post-pandemic there’s an even greater need to evolve the modern office to allow for spacing and provide a “resi-mercial” feel that reminds employees of the comforts of home.

Decompression Zones

This area is exactly what it sounds like. A spot within the office where employees can kick back and relax while still getting some work done. Decompression zones are typically filled with soft seating in an open format and are less structured. Employees are free to move around this type of area without a reservation or any formally assigned workstation. Lilly and Jax are perfect office chairs for a decompression zone. They both offer a range of base options including a lounge option for a truly relaxed feel, and a rocker that gives a vibe of being at home on the front porch which is perfect for employees who enjoy working from home and want to bring that vibe into the office. According to research from the HBR, employees who take breaks throughout the day are more productive and produce better work. Don’t overlook the decompression zone when it comes to creating a productive space!

Collaboration Spaces

The goal of a collaboration space is to promote communication, idea generation, productivity and teamwork. There are many types of collaborative spaces, but here we’ll focus on two of the more popular types. First, formal collaboration spaces, which are commonly referred to as conference rooms. With a conference room, the vibe is more buttoned-up, a reservation is often required, and information is typically pushed one way, versus two-way collaboration. The Omnia chair is an ideal fit for most conference room environments. With numerous configuration options and excellent value, it’s a “go-to” for designers and specifiers.

Pictured: Omnia

For training and educational conference rooms, consider the Vox or Dash chair which offers stacking and stool options – perfect for larger collaboration spaces where a value-oriented chair is desired. The second major type of collaboration space is the open lounge space. In this type of area, a reservation is not required, there’s typically more soft seating, perhaps several types of writing surfaces, and even close access to a break area or open kitchen. Compared to a decompression zone, the goal of this collaboration space is to foster employee communication and get the creative ideas flowing, whereas, in a decompression zone, it’s more about the individual and relaxation.

Pictured: Dash


Private Spaces

When it comes to private workspaces, there are two broad categories. First is the open office workstation. This is the most common type of workspace, where an employee has a dedicated desk, chair and other accessories. In this type of environment, the employee’s chair is perhaps the most important and personal element (besides family pictures). We can all tell if our office chair has been swapped out because it just “doesn’t feel right”. The Luna task chair is a great value and a perfect fit for open office workstations.

Pictured: Luna

The other major type of private space is the walled-off, private office. These are less common as square footage per employee continues to decline, but in these types of offices, a premium aesthetic, options and a more luxurious feel are usually desired. The Jax lounge is a perfect companion for this type of office. The look and feel of this chair command respect with its bold styling and large overall frame. Combine that with a striking finish and it’s clear that users of this chair are ready for business!

Pictured: Jax lounge with Diddy

The traditional office has evolved significantly over the years and the pandemic further accelerated this evolution. Designers and specifiers will continue to need to look for soft materials that have a “resi-mercial” type of feel, customization and value. With lean manufacturing, steady inventory levels, and unparallel customer service, 9to5 Seating is ready for the future and any specification challenge!