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Redesign your office space with the comforts of home and watch your team thrive

Since 2020, the workplace has changed more dramatically than any other private space. Here’s how to rethink your office and invest in your greatest asset.

The pandemic caused the greatest shift in how we work since the introduction of the desktop computer. Workers were sent home to work, and while some had home offices, others had to improvise. Consequently, when returning to the office, they want flexible, custom spaces that entice them out of their home offices (or living rooms) .

“We can’t turn back the clock and expect people will return to their cubicle and focus for seven or eight hours,” says Greg Wooster, vice-president of workplace strategy and interior design at Aura Office Environments. “Environments have to be more dynamic and address the comforts and specific needs workers have become accustomed to.”

Same space, new vision

The shift to hybrid work is an important driver of office redesign. Statistics Canada says that, as of November 2023, 20% of Canadians work predominantly from home, which has business owners eying downsizing, but Wooster suggests a second look.

“It’s not that we need less space but different kinds of space,” he says. “Space can and should be reassigned to amenities like lounges, collaborative stations, and individual wellness or privacy rooms”

One key is fostering collaboration, innovation and culture building. Picture cafeteria spaces with screens available for unstructured meetings, work lounges with a view, programmed fitness or yoga studios—even childcare areas.

“A multi-purpose, flexible and unstructured lounge goes beyond a place to reheat your lunch,” Wooster says. “It might include tables for gathering, islands or networking bars where workers can grab a coffee and appreciate a view or sit with their laptops between meetings.”

Wellness through a new lens

Photo by Luke Potter

Workers are also refocused on wellness, which is not new but has a new lens. They want purpose and engagement, so programmed fitness spaces—like a yoga studio—help set a happy and productive tone for the day. New on the scene is appreciation for wellness rooms, where employees can engage and reset or be alone to rejuvenate.

Depending on the employer, this space might function as a nap room, a parenting room or a room for prayer. “Being able to support those priorities really makes those decisions for employees to come to the office easier,” Wooster says.

Strategic partnerships

Photo by Russell Dalby

Aura operates as a strategic partner for businesses navigating the return to office. Offering comprehensive services in workplace strategy, interior design and project delivery, it is transforming Vancouver workplaces.

While he acknowledges the pendulum is still swinging, with many organizations still looking for the right answers when it comes to workplace redevelopment and return to office, Wooster advises companies to think about protecting their greatest investment—human resources.

“If we can provide appropriate, engaging, compelling workspaces, we are leveraging our greatest investment with a smaller investment in our spaces,” he says. “This will bring the best out of your workers.”

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