Whether you’re returning to work rested, relaxed and raring to go for 2023, or dragging your heels after a soggy start to the year, there is nothing like looking at 2023 design trends to provide some inspo for the coming year. This article aims to provide office design trends, workplace design trends and workplace wellness trends all bundled up in one easy to read place.
Hybrid working continues to trend in 2023
Many of us are no longer working 100% remotely, and not many of us are working 100% in the office either. In 2020, and again in 2022, we undertook a survey of employees and employers across Aotearoa New Zealand to better understand the State of the Workplace. Our November 2022 survey uncovered that 58% of Kiwis are working hybridly, sharing their time between office and home. 64% of respondents anticipated that they’ll continue to split their working time between locations over the next 12 months.
Some corporate and tech companies are putting their foot down on flexible working arrangements for staff, as Disney follows the likes of Twitter, Uber and Tesla, demanding a minimum number of in-office working days. Companies cite productivity and creativity as reasons to get their teams back in the office. For employees, having true flexibility around their working hours and location can deliver a genuine work/life balance.
2023 kicks off with a continued low unemployment rate for Kiwis, but is expected to deliver a recession in Aotearoa New Zealand and in other major economies across the world. So while it remains a jobseeker’s market right now, and requests for hybrid working remain part of an attractive package, this could well change as the year progresses and businesses become under pressure to deliver better results with fewer resources.
How can your business do its best work – via remote teams of the best talent available?, by offering employee-led hybrid work environments and keep your employees at their happiest?, or with mandatory in-office days to ensure valuable face to face interactions are maintained?
Continued focus on sustainability
It should come as no surprise that workplaces continue to have sustainable design and outcomes front and centre of every choice they make this year. All office purchases and changes to managed contracts should have a sustainability lens and ask the question “is this a more sustainable option for our business?”.
As a business, our commitment to sustainability and improving Environmental Outcomes is a core value alongside our wider business goals. We’re a proud Aotearoa New Zealand business, and we believe we have a responsibility to commit to sustainable practices in all that we do, including a sustainable lens, from cradle to grave, for all the products we offer. That includes the logistics of getting them to our clients and responsibly managing the waste by products that inevitably come with delivering products.
We’ve committed to:
- Supporting local manufacturing where possible,
- Innovating in our industry with sustainable practices, particularly around waste reduction, repurposing and recycling,
- Protecting our natural environment, and encouraging our clients to do so to by adopting sustainable workplace designs,
- Environmental leadership in our industry for promoting and encouraging environmental stewardship,
- Environment guardianship by partnering with organisations and suppliers that demonstrate Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of our natural environment and proactively take steps to protect it.
We also look to our partners to support our sustainability journey. As the exclusive Aotearoa New Zealand dealer for Haworth furniture, we’re supportive of their net-zero emissions goal and are following their progress with interest, and seeing how we can leverage some of their practices into our Aotearoa New Zealand operations.
Bringing the outdoors in
The last few years has seen a trend in biophilic design and making better use of outdoor spaces. 2023 will see us look to make the most of our natural environment and build more connections with our environment. Gone are the days of plastic plants on desks, and thinking a service entrance can double as a ‘fresh air’ space for employees. Instead, thoughtful uses of how to incorporate the outside, inside will ensure workspaces are healthier, more creative and more pleasant places to spend our valuable time.
Biophilic design trends at their most basic include adding plants and greenery, incorporating more natural sunlight and ventilating where possible with fresh air. We suspect that workplaces who have already made these transitions will be looking to build on their biophilic workplace design by incorporating more complex aspects to their work spaces:
- Environmental features – water features, or use of natural products within the office (rocks, wood not plastic items etc).
- Light and space – allowing natural light in where possible and adding skylights or additional windows to areas that need it.
- Natural shapes and forms – curved furniture, more flow and access between desks and ‘casual seating’ arrangements can all support this.
- Natural patterns and processes – a well thought through workplace layout with spaces for quiet and noise, a logical flow for visitors and easy to find meeting rooms can support this.
- Place-based relationships – an inspiring workplace can create an emotional attachment for your employees. Observe how they interact with your workspace and the relationship they have with certain areas – the favourite nook for quiet work, the comfortable breakout space for collaborative conversations and so on.
- Evolved human-nature relationships – for many, time in nature supports physical and mental wellbeing. Reducing stress and managing complex work challenges in a restful environment can only be a good outcome for your business!
Outdoor spaces could be one of your best office assets. If you have a courtyard, garden, rooftop or balcony that you can convert to a fair weather meeting or eating space, this can be a huge mood and morale booster for busy employees that can’t take time that day for a proper ‘outside the office’ break. More time outdoors is better for our health!
Ensuring workplaces are vibrant and creative places to work
Professional workplaces are no longer monochrome offices sporting plenty of glass and metallic finishes. Colour and texture is back: to attract employees back to the workplace, inspire them to do great work, and impress visiting clients with a visual representation of a company’s culture, values and ‘vibe’.
A few of our favourite design trends from Haworth’s Design Trends for 2023, that are particularly relevant for Aotearoa New Zealand include:
- Grounded – Kiwis love to connect with nature. Incorporating organic materials and nature’s colours into our offices is an obvious trend for any Kiwi workplace looking at redesigning their space this year.
- Feeling Swell – comfortable, serene spaces that feel like an extension of home? This has huge appeal to the Kiwi workforce.
- Autumnal Spice – autumnal colours and the colours of nature have long been popular in Aotearoa New Zealand interior design.
- Good Natured – sustainable, environment first choices will be increasingly popular – from paint brands to furniture to accessories, we understand that every choice can make a difference.
- Retro Comfort – simplicity and tradition can be a great brand fit with many businesses, and can fit nicely with sustainability goals of repurposing and reusing workplace products and furniture.
Employee wellness is worth investing in
As Covid self-isolation periods continue in 2023, and virulent bugs abound, keeping our teams healthy will ensure we minimise slow downs and the mass sick leave periods we experienced in 2022. Key to this will be allowing for hybrid work (an employee may be self-isolating for Covid but be perfectly well enough to continue working, albeit from home).
Good people remain difficult to recruit, so businesses are motivated to keep their employees healthy, motivated and loyal. Healthy teams mean fewer sick days, resignations, and more work productivity.
For many employees, the toll of the last 3 years of Covid anxiety and uncertainty is still at large. Physical wellness and mental health support should remain a key pillar of HR strategies in 2023. How can your workplace foster employee wellbeing: physical wellness, mental health support and reduce Great Resignation departures?
We hope our Workplace Design Trends for 2023 have got you and your team thinking about the changes you’ll implement in 2023. January and February are a great time to plan the changes you could make easily now, the changes you’d like to make this year, and agree on a roadmap and new financial year budget to realise these.