• Carrie Frye

It’s all about the team members:

Updated: Mar 8

3 tips for office design in an employee-driven world


An office project we designed with plenty of multi-use and gathering spaces that’s currently under construction in Charlotte.

It’s been two years since many knowledge workers said goodbye to their offices temporarily to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Turns out, “temporarily” wasn’t so temporary.


Now the tide finally seems to be turning with the virus, and it looks like people are returning to their offices for real, even if it’s on a hybrid basis of 2-3 days a week.


Companies here in Charlotte and elsewhere have been moving forward with building new offices and refreshing old ones throughout the pandemic in preparation for this moment.


Now it’s all about the team members


One big thing that’s changed since the before times is that today’s good office design is all about the team members.


In years past, offices were usually designed with multiple audiences in mind, including clients and team members, with special attention paid to the personal desires and aesthetic preferences of top executives like CEOs (the latter was never the best system anyway).


Today’s office should play a key role in attracting and retaining team members in a historically tight labor market and getting them engaged.


The labor market is calling the shots


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November of last year, leaving a record 10.8 million jobs open at the end of 2021.


And in 2021, a Gallup poll found that the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. declined for the first time in a decade. Only 34% of employees in the survey were engaged, and 16% were actively disengaged in their work and workplace. That means more than half of the workforce is unengaged!


In this environment, companies need to rebuild their cultures and brands from the inside out.


Here are 3 ways good office design can help:


  1. Replace assigned seating and traditional workstations with multi-use spaces. Having people sit in assigned workstations all day defeats the purpose of coming to the office. The new office should encourage in-person interactions that foster collaboration and help newer team members get mentorship and apprenticeship. There should be multiple places to work and meet, and design should encourage people to move around during the day, creating those serendipitous interactions that rarely happen in the virtual world.

  2. Give gathering spaces center stage. Gone are the days of the break room or other communal spaces being an afterthought. The new office should be built around attractive gathering spaces such as coffee houses and outdoor patios that encourage groups to spend time together.

  3. Complete the design with brand elements. Your office shouldn’t be mistaken for a generic space or anyone else’s office. Brand elements such as signage details, wall graphics, artwork and color selections should underline and support your brand, right down to the food and beverages in the break room fridge.

As we finally come out of the pandemic fog together, here’s to creating office spaces for people to enjoy!

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