Well designed offices will get people back to working together - Mark Alcorn

Our design team has spent decades creating corporate workspaces across the UK and in locations such as Hong Kong, Paris, Milan and New York. During that time we’ve seen many trends come and go. Now though, more than ever before, design is being seen as an integral part of business strategy and this presents an exciting opportunity.

Increasingly we are seeing old, often historic, buildings in our city centres being repurposed into offices which acknowledge and expose traditional features while making provision for contemporary ways of working. The latter could mean video booths which offer quiet spaces for calls in an open plan office or moveable partitions that can be used when more room is needed for people to join a meeting.

There is also a desire to make working environments feel more domestic and relaxed while offering functions that home can’t provide, like collaboration and business social spaces. As we all know, many valuable exchanges and creative ideas happen just because you happen to be in the same place. The kitchen can be unexpected ideas factory while having a coffee with colleagues.

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When it comes to creating spaces for people to work together, employers are keen to ensure there are a range of engaging settings for all kinds of interactions. For instance, whether you work in a finance, tech or a creative role, there is no substitute for problem-solving in person. Small groups of people can benefit from brainstorming in soundproofed booths while bigger spaces with sofas and refreshment points can work well for larger gatherings.

​Collaboration with colleagues is easier in an office environment (Picture: stock.adobe.com)​Collaboration with colleagues is easier in an office environment (Picture: stock.adobe.com)
​Collaboration with colleagues is easier in an office environment (Picture: stock.adobe.com)

Training and mentoring are other crucial elements of working life best achieved in a shared space where learning happens on the job. If you’re struggling with a task, you can easily approach someone and ask for help. Being in the same office can make all the difference and a well-designed workplace can facilitate support, direction and community. I have been working in the industry for more than 30 years and still find motivation and reassurance to be found in being part of a team with a wider mission.

As we’re all aware, our working environment has an impact on our well-being. Connecting with others is a key part of being human and most of us missed the social aspect when we were not allowed to physically go to the office.

Attracting and retaining staff is a preoccupation across many sectors at the moment, hence investment in aesthetically pleasing, as well as practical, space. This could take the form of graphics being used on the glass of meeting rooms, known in the industry as “manifestations”; hanging baskets of plants above individual desks which brings the outdoors indoors; colourful tables and chairs made out of recycled material; chill-out zones with games tables.

While hybrid working is undoubtably here to stay, working from an office has clear benefits. The challenge is to create workspaces that people really want to be part of and to return to and that’s why people engage us across a range of sectors. Designing comfortable and inspiring surroundings is a passion reflected in our own office. Happily, this makes it pleasure to turn up for work!

Mark Alcorn, Managing Director, c2: concepts

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