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We’re all familiar with the clichéd depiction of corporate office life. From the 1999 film “Office Space” to the British sitcom “Peep Show”, we typically see disgruntled employees working amongst piles of paperwork in grey, uninspiring workspaces.

While that may have been the case once upon a time, in recent years corporate office design has changed dramatically. With more emphasis on meeting changing employee expectations, savvy firms are embracing designs that are vibrant, efficient, and magnetic.

But what exactly does that look like? What has brought about the change? In this blog, we answer those questions by looking at recent case studies, relevant articles, and key data. Read on to learn more…

Office Design Isn’t Just Defined by Sector

In an era where people want more from their workspace, Instagram-worthy office designs are no longer the preserve of tech companies like Google. Indeed, we’re now seeing companies across all sectors creating visually stunning, commute-worthy offices – including corporates.

Take our client, a Manchester-based corporate insurance company, as an example. Walk into the space, and the first thing you’ll notice is a modern-industrial aesthetic marked by exposed elements. It also includes living walls for pops of greenery, Zoom booths, and two alluring breakout spaces, making for an incredible employee experience.

Likewise, our London interiors designers have helped companies in tech, travel and tourism, and catering to create an “employee first” workplace. As you will discover in this article, employee-led design has become a key factor for corporates when it comes to refurbishing their workspaces.

Looking for inspiration? See more corporate office designs here.

Corporate Locations, Anti-Corporate Designs

It seems that office design is no longer defined by location either. These days, we’re seeing vibrant, enticing designs popping up in traditionally corporate areas to lure workers into the office.

For example, the new Signal House offices in Washington exude a sense of hospitality, despite being in an area associated with top-tier law firms. With a variety of amenities and lavish décor, the space communicates comfort more than power.

We’re seeing this trend in London too. As covered by Mix Interiors, the South Quay Building in the Isle of Dogs has undergone a “youthful and rebellious” transformation. With a design that you wouldn’t typically associate with those in the city’s corporate heartland, it’s clear that changes are afoot.

The Growing Desire for “Human-Centricity”

Recently, BBC Worklife ran an article about the rise of “workplace experience” consultants in wake of the pandemic. These consultants work directly with corporate clients to determine what their workers want in an office space.

This demand is largely down to a trend towards “human-centric” design, as companies look to attract staff back to the office and get more value out of their real estate. But what does human-centric look like?

According to the BBC article, it’s a case of creating a space as comfortable as the home while also providing performance-enhancing facilities. Features may include ergonomic furniture, advanced workplace technology, and enticing catering facilities with free meals.

Some companies even measure how “human-centric” their spaces are using grading systems. Workplace data firm Leesman offers this as a service, awarding certificates to those who consistently provide an outstanding employee experience.

Related content: “How to Improve the Workplace Experience for Employees.”

Data-Driven Design is Key

To ensure their workspaces meet the needs of their employees, corporate firms are utilising data to inform design decisions. This helps them to determine what to prioritise to improve conditions for staff and keep on top of ever-changing demands.

The aforementioned workplace experience consultants play a big part in this process. As mentioned in the BBC Worklife article, some conduct companywide focus groups to get perspectives outside of executive committees.

Again, this suggests that many corporates are re-thinking their workplace strategies by putting people first. By collecting data, they can learn more about how employees are using the existing space and communicate a clear, well-informed brief to corporate office designers.

Less is More for Some

Due to the rise in hybrid working, some corporates have downsized to accommodate smaller in-office numbers. One such example is HSBC, which is moving out of its global headquarters in Canary Wharf after more than two decades to much smaller offices in the City of London.

For HSBC, this has represented an opportunity to embrace a “less is more” approach. Not only do they give their employees more flexibility, but the space is “designed to promote wellbeing” according to the bank.

Some large companies are even taking advantage of coworking spaces as part of their flexible working approach. According to coworking provider IWG, employees are now “working from home for a day or two each week, alongside collaborative time spent at a nearby flexible workspace and the occasional visit to corporate HQ.”

Could it be that the change in corporate office design is also down to increased competition from coworking offices? Given the flexible work approach some are taking, it’s unsurprising that some corporate spaces look more like coworking offices these days!

Facilitating Focused Work is Key

Leesman recently carried out an investigation into what employees value the most in their workplace. Of 157,880 survey participants, 92% cited “desk-based individual focused work” as the most important work activity.

As 39% of the respondents work in banking, investing, insurance, and financial services, this suggests corporate employees value quiet spaces where they can double down. But what does that mean for corporate office design?

Thankfully, it probably doesn’t mean corporate offices will go back to the cubicle farm model. Rather, many will likely embrace the current trend for offering a range of working environments for specific tasks, including quiet zones with acoustic pods.

For more on this subject, check out our article: “Are You Doing Enough to Facilitate Deep Work?”

How Corporate Office Design is Changing – the Final Takeaway

With so much emphasis on creating a people-led space, it’s a good time to be a corporate employee! Indeed, in wake of the pandemic, firms are going the extra mile to create an office where people want to come and work, rather than just a functional space.

For the businesses themselves, this has meant they have become more adventurous with their designs. What’s more, by optimising their offices for wellness and productivity, they are reaping the benefits of creating an environment where employees can work at peak performance.

In short, everybody wins.

Written by Chris Sparham

Need Help with Your Office Re-design?

Rap Interiors is a London office interior design company with 30+ years of industry experience. Our designers specialise in creating efficient, on-brand workspaces that promote wellbeing and productivity. Additionally, we offer a fit out and refurbishment service, meaning we can cover every aspect of your project.

To learn more about us and book a design consultation, please fill out the enquiry form below or call 0333 600 1234.