To wrap up 2021, we sat down with Finn Forsyth-Wright (Installation Manager) and discussed industry trends and how the working environment is changing.
Finn, can you give a brief overview of the industry landscape at the moment, particularly after COVID-19?
It’s an interesting topic as many workplaces are still discovering how the impact of COVID-19 will change the “traditional working environment”. At the peak of the outbreak, there was a massive change to the office environment. As a temporary measure, employees were encouraged to work from home, which tested the internal capabilities of departments to perform online. And, for employees returning to the office, social distancing became important – this changed the way offices were configured and designed. COVID-19 has pushed the market away from cramming as many people into one space as possible which previously optimised cost-efficiency, and there has been a shift to more online meetings. It’s been an interesting time for sure!
Has COVID -19 changed the way people are working? Are many offices choosing to “work from home” or implement “hot desking”?
People are still finding their feet with COVID-19 and working out how their office spaces and working environments will be changing in the future.
Over the past few years – even pre-COVID-19, hotdesking trends were popular with government agencies, meaning fewer people were assigned desks in the office. Now, employees get assigned a locker to minimise paper trails and promote interaction within staff and departments (not so beneficial now for obvious reasons!).
Open and distanced working environments are becoming an attractive option for offices as they minimise contact in the office while also promoting staff and employees to adopt the working from home (WFH) lifestyle. Working from home has become more prevalent in smaller businesses, with more offices opting for a simple set-up that prioritises and encourages a drop in/drop out working style.
While working from home offers greater flexibility, there is limited social interaction online compared to the office, mainly when meetings are over zoom or teams. The novelty of WHF will eventually wear off, and the market will find different ways of working around working from home and implementing social distancing guidelines. However, a combination of these will begin to retire the traditional 9-5 of office working.
What are the textile trends in the market currently?
Offices are gravitating towards collaborative and informal meeting spaces, particularly “moveable” meeting rooms like the Vidak Urban Pods. Traditionally a meeting would be a group of people around the board room table – now, people are opting to meet in less formal environments to promote collaboration. Couches, booths or bar leaners/tables, when set up correctly, can provide an attractive and efficient place to have a meeting. Technology has advanced as well, for example, built-in TV’s and USB ports, allowing employees to find an open space, plug in their laptop and give a presentation to anywhere from 2-10 people.
The Urban Pod by Vidak or Room booth style of collaborative working is on the other end of the spectrum. Providing the privacy of a meeting room, they also come without hefty requirements for engineering and building consents like traditional rooms needing permanent fixtures. Convenient and collaborative meeting spaces are popular because of their moveable and removable design. This opens up opportunities for reconfiguring dynamic and interchangeable workspaces to suit increased/reduced occupancy for tenants.
What are the conversations Interstall is having with clients when it comes to looking to make changes in their office spaces?
As a residual impact of COVID -19, spacing is a significant factor. Due to social distancing guidelines, there has been a push to take away pods of desks and increase distances between work points. Office noise and sound transmission are hot topics for new and existing fit-outs.
Starting in the industry seven years ago, acoustic solutions, for example, Autex products, were not as popular as they are today. Now, Interstall rarely does a fit-out without acoustic considerations for sound transmission.
Cascade Hanging Screens has seen a surge in the last twelve months; their popularity comes from their portability and simple installation process, allowing them to be shifted easily if the office layout changes. Available in various colours and patterns, Cascade screens also serve a dual purpose as a feature or a pop of colour in the office while also reducing noise.
Are offices looking to install pods, meeting booths, collab spaces? If so, why?
Versatile and dual-purpose products are becoming trendy. Offering clients multiple adaptable options is a massive part of the market. Office spaces and working environments have changed significantly since the beginning of the global pandemic; therefore, firms and businesses are unsure what the office environment will look like post-COVID-19. The nature of the products Interstall offer reassures clients that the products can be dynamic, moveable and relocatable, which plays a significant part in the decision making process.
What Autex products are popular in offices at the moment?
Interstall has completed many installations of Cascade Hanging Screens and the Cube product. Available in both solid colours and patterned panels, the dual-purpose functionality of the products has made them “trendy”. Cube is pinnable and reasonably well at self-healing (pinholes aren’t as noticeable as other products on the market). With its acoustic capabilities, noise transmission is reduced, and it can act as a feature wall when installed in the right places.
Autex Acoustic Timber is the latest in dual-purpose products. It gives the noise reduction benefit of traditional Autex products and provides a modern look of traditional timber rafts. Available in a wide range of colours and timber grains, it can easily be adapted to match the office’s new or existing colours schemes. In previous fit-outs, Interstall has seen a real push for a modern executive look in architectural and design offices. Opting for black desk frames with timber grain desktops, Autex Acoustic Timber will greatly complement these spaces and bring a natural element into any room.
Interstall leads the way in high-performance office fit-outs and furniture installations. Offering solutions to enhance the design and acoustics of any office space, our specialised team will be the ones you trust.
Talk to us today to learn more about our services, team, and how we can help transform your space.