Workspace Design Show

26 – 27 February 2025 | Business Design Centre, London

How has Hybrid Work Influenced the Approach to Workplace Design?

Adrian Davidson
EMEA Head of Design

Hybrid work has transformed the function of the office.

With people spending only part of their week in the office, new patterns of work have emerged, bringing more emphasis on collaboration, greater choice in where work is done, and increased demand for spaces to nurture company culture.

As designers, understanding these patterns is crucial to creating offices that support new ways of working – and remain attractive, efficient and functional for today’s employees.

Decoding work patterns through occupancy data

One of the most profound changes in our design process is the increased reliance on understanding occupancy data.

We now consider a company’s ebb and flow of in-office and remote work when calculating current and future space requirements. This has become more complex as there are more variables in play – such as how many people are in at once on any given day, what work people tend to do in the office, and when and where they prefer to do it.

Real-time occupancy data provides insights into how spaces are used, which informs better planning and resource allocation in our design concepts.

Hospitality meets workplace design

As the office is no longer the sole location where work happens, the quality of the work experience needs to match or exceed other spaces to attract employees.

This shift has led to a more hospitality-oriented design mindset, where we’re considering how features like cafes, wellness rooms, gyms and other amenities contribute to an engaging work environment.

By focusing on creating mindful and high-quality experiences, we can design an environment where employees want to be, rather than feel obliged to use.

Integrating diverse workspaces

Creating an attractive work environment today also means providing the right variety of workspaces to meet diverse employee needs.

In creating an engaging office experience, we emphasise design that supports different ways of working and varied types of work. This includes incorporating spaces for focused work, collaboration, social interaction, and relaxation.

Higher quality, smaller spaces

With fewer employees in on a given day, companies often need less space in a hybrid model, which is driving a trend towards smaller but higher quality offices. This has demanded a more rigorous approach from designers, as we need to eliminate space inefficiencies while delivering superior experiences.

For us, this has meant a heightened focus on acoustics to separate dynamic zones from private or quiet spaces; lighting and ergonomics for comfort; as well as visually varied and sustainable design – all key elements in engaging employees today.

Layout strategy for spontaneous interaction

Optimising utility in smaller spaces also means we focus on how the location of various workplace facilities can enhance social interaction and support workflow patterns.

We explore the best placements of open-plan, communal, social and meeting spaces to encourage collaboration and spontaneous encounters, which are crucial for innovation and team cohesion.

This design approach also supports individual work patterns by ensuring there are accessible, well-equipped areas to meet specific employee needs throughout the workday.

Multidisciplinary collaboration

The complexity introduced by hybrid workplace design calls for a more collaborative approach.

Designers play a crucial role in coordinating interdisciplinary experts, including client teams, management consultants, IT specialists, acoustic and lighting designers, facilities managers, food and beverage operators, and waste management professionals. This collaboration is essential for us to create the connected, sustainable and engaging environment sought after by the modern workforce.

Hybrid work has fundamentally changed what workspace needs to accommodate. A holistic design approach ensures the office remains a vital and vibrant part of employees’ professional lives.