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RSP’s Alissa Franconi says employees will be back in the office a lot more in 2023. And they’re going to like it.

*Work Design Magazine originally published this article.

This year saw most companies having employees come back to the office in person at least a few days a week. Next year, we will see companies getting employees excited about coming back to the office.

The hybrid model will continue to be popular. But based on feedback from our clients and our own offices across the country, I predict that we will all settle into a more standardized pattern of going into the office at least three days a week. The biggest difference is that employers are going to prioritize the quality of their workspaces even more to entice, engage and enthuse employees into going back.

Workplace Trend: Collaborative Spaces

Many of our clients are doing this through fun but sophisticated social and collaborative environments along with amenities that employees just can’t get at home. They are integrating technology in a way that makes work more efficient. They are adding unusual perks (like leasing space in a building with a rooftop pickleball court for one of our clients). And they are hosting events that maximize employee facetime and connection. One of the biggest trends? Potluck parties are back! It may sound a little retro, but we have numerous clients who are using their common spaces for employee potluck parties. We even had one client who put adequate space for homemade dishes in the design brief.  

Engaging Through Wellness and Sustainability

In a completely different category from potluck parties, clients are also focusing a great deal on wellness and sustainability. Not just because demonstrates their commitment to their employees, but because it’s the right thing to do. At The Beam on Farmer, which is the first Cross-Laminated Timber building in Arizona and has a number of other sustainable features, sustainable design is part of the pitch to tenants from both the owner and the City of Tempe. Companies that have mission statements that involve sustainability and wellness goals need to back them up with their office designs. And leasing space in a building that mitigates environmental harm is the first step in showing employees that their values are more than just words on a page.

Workplace Trend: Leveraging FOMO

Finally, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is becoming a powerful force at some organizations for encouraging employees to get back to the office in person. One of our clients has noticed an uptick in FOMO since their people moved into their newly designed space. This confidential financial client initially wanted to downsize their Phoenix campus from four to two renovated buildings. Since the renovation, they have found that their employees at home were getting a little bit jealous of their colleagues in the office when they got a peek at some of the new spaces via video conference.

The organization is now seeing an unexpected surge in the frequency (and consistency) of employees coming back to the office. They are even considering keeping and revamping one of the buildings that was previously set to be closed. This same client is also investing in the employee experience with a large hospitality-inspired amenity space that covers the works—a townhall area, coffee shop, gelato shop, conference center and fitness center. From the looks of things, FOMO is only going to get more intense for their employees in 2023 and our team sees this as a growing trend everywhere.

To be clear, these return-to-office efforts aren’t about just getting people back into the office for the sake of it—they’re about maximizing connection, collaboration and efficiency. We have seen time and time again that when employees know each other better, they communicate better and get more work done, even when they’re working from home. The hybrid model is here to stay, but that just means that the in-office work experience has to be stronger than ever. 

About the Author

Alissa Franconi NCIDQ is an award-winning interior designer who specializes in creating dynamic, efficient workplaces. No matter the client, from fast-moving start-ups to global corporations, Alissa creates environments that enhance employee well-being and productivity with economically viable, operationally efficient solutions. Read more about Alissa.

Featured Image: Nextiva Corporate Headquarters Photographer: Kathryn Butler, Copyright RSP Architects.

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