Goodbye to the desk? How office design will change
After COVID-19, office environments must find a new role. We have all experienced first-hand that you don’t need an office to perform your work, but what then should they be used for?
According to the architect Julian Weyer, a partner at C.F. Møller Architects, the office will have much more of a social function in future.
According to Julian Weyer, a partner and architect at C.F. Møller Architects, the COVID-19 pandemic has been something of an eye-opener for modern office workspaces:
“Of course, we were well aware of this before, but the pandemic has really opened our eyes to the fact that you don’t have to go into an office to do your work. In the course of 2020, companies discovered who actually needs the office – and who doesn’t. Many companies are therefore in the process of rethinking the office,” he says.
“Office work can be done anywhere, but to do the job smartly and meaningfully, we also need places to meet. So, the role of the office is changing from being a place where we go to sit at our desk to being a place where we can meet,” he explains.
Role of the desk diminished
At many offices, it means that the number of permanent workspaces can be reduced. Because the role of the desk has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Previously, the desk was the standard piece of furniture for office workplaces. The employer was expected to make a desk available, which then became a kind of personal space for the employees. But the desk was probably never really much loved. What we’re seeing now is that the desk is becoming more of a personal option,” says Julian Weyer.
“In my case, I don’t mind a desk. I like getting out of the house, but I need the surface that a desk provides to draw sketches and as somewhere to keep my tools. However, it’s not like that for everyone, which is why fewer desks will be needed in future,” he says.
The office as a social space
Julian Weyer points out that having a desk in the office is still necessary for those who are unable to set up a sensible office at home. On the other hand, he sees that people are moving away from having individual workplaces to offices with a slightly different function.
“We need offices for meeting and engaging with our colleagues. So, what we’re seeing is a greater focus on other parts of the office, which are now being enlarged. It’s the places where we can meet — either as formal meetings, online meetings or as completely random meetings with colleagues,” he explains.
“The office is turning into a social space, and its raison d’être will be giving employees a reason for coming into work,” says Julian Weyer.
Quietness and activity
However, the transition from the traditional office to ‘a social office’ also presents challenges for interior designers.
“When people are more able to decide how they personally use the office, you’re going to see significant differences in how people behave and also very different noise levels. As a result, it is important to create zones that allow socialising and cooperation, while also making it possible for people to concentrate and immerse themselves in their work. And of course, without creating new divisions or barriers that undermine social cohesion in the organisation,” says Julian Weyer.
“Good office design becomes a matter of combining quiet zones and active zones so that it is never far from one to the other, enabling the employees to make the most natural and attractive choices,” he says.
Who is C.F. Møller Architects?
- F. Møller Architects is one of Scandinavia’s leading firms of architects with more than 90 years of award-winning architecture in the Nordics and worldwide behind it.
- F. Møller Architects has offices in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Germany.
- The company’s vision is to improve life for people and the planet.
Julian Weyer, partner og architect at C.F. Møller Architects.