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Office trends for better workplaces in 2021

The Kiwi design business at the forefront of office trends, PLN Group, have a pretty good idea about what businesses need to make their workplaces work. 

Having designed pieces to kit out the likes of international brands Google, Shopify and our very own Air New Zealand, they’ve got the authority on what people need, want and what will make the space work better for everyone.

For 2021, there are some big trends coming and some staying the same. Some of the biggest trends for businesses in 2021 focus on employee wellbeing, reducing stress, the incorporation of biophilic design, improved office acoustics and increased flexibility. 

Stress and Biophilic design

The designers at PLN Group predict biophilic design will rise in prominence globally.

While some trends ebb and flow, one constant is the increasing speed at which our lives operate.  The relentless pace, drive for productivity and juggling of life balance are sources of increased stress in our lives, and ironically are counterproductive to the aim to optimise and improve performance.   

Humans have a primal need to connect with nature and our busy lives often prevent us from achieving this. Reconnecting with nature is proven to help speed recovery from stressful events and to assist in restoring physical and mental health.

Biophilic design as a concept aims to connect occupants of spaces with the natural environment in various forms. When well executed, biophilic design will aid with recovery from stress, enhance well being and foster creativity. 

Driven by their purpose of enhancing both employee wellbeing and organisational performance, PLN Group are launching their new range of biophilic design furniture in 2021. The range, Backdrop, is inspired by the beauty of New Zealand’s landforms and native flora.

Office acoustics

Good office acoustics are increasingly important for businesses as noise is one of the leading sources of distraction and stress in workplaces. In 2021 businesses will apply the learnings from their experiences in working from home during the past year compared with being part of an office environment.

Return to work/office strategies will be focused on collaboration and creativity.  Work from home will support task centric objectives and the open office will be the source of group generated outcomes.  

Collaborations will often lead to more sounds in the open office that may be unwanted by others involved in focus work.  Noises and interruptions out of our control can cause stress and frustration when we’re trying to focus on a task at hand. Having a zone where we can get into the zone – and not get distracted out of it – is important for productivity and engagement.

Businesses are opting for sound absorbing office furniture and accessories to address the sound issue such as purpose-designed lighting fixtures that absorb sound. PLN Group’s Hush Light is one example of clever lighting design that has revolutionised the way we think about sound, creating more focused workspaces. 

Place acoustic lighting over an individual task desk and in the wider workspace to soften sound and speed up the rate at which noise dissipates. 

The Hush Light’s lightweight, semi-rigid acoustic panels help mitigate the impact of noise in an open-plan environment, allowing teams to work collaboratively while also helping individuals to focus – free of distractions.

Flexibility – the traditional office isn’t dead

Although we’ve adapted to working from home pretty well in 2020, it just doesn’t beat good old-fashioned face-to-face collaboration. 

Flexibility between working-from-home and working at the office is on the rise, but collaboration is still key. Put simply, time spent together at work allows creativity to thrive – it will always be valuable.

Having spaces that employees can use when they want and need, and how they want and need is increasingly popular with shared spaces like Auckland’s Generator and B:HIVE buildings. But these spaces aren’t your usual open-plan offices; they’re strategically designed to balance the needs of both the team and individuals with a mix of designated areas and furniture to suit all ways of working. 

In 2021 it is possible for your employees to thrive while improving your business performance, enabled by great workspace design which truly allows your office to work for you.

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