In March 2020, life changed for pretty much all of us. The announcement to work from home where possible meant that many of us had to move away from our familiar office environments, and start operating remotely. It was challenging, but we made it work.

Everyone had their own ideas of what their home office space would look like. The majority worked from the sofa, while around half of all home workers reported working from bed or from the kitchen table, and around 40% say they’ve worked from the floor. Some have even worked from the toilet… but the less said about that the better, we think!

Some, however, have really gone the extra mile, turning into interior fit out gurus that have created their own incredible work spaces and jaw dropping home offices.

Our very own Group Operations Director Amanda is one of them. She gave us a glimpse into her stunning garden setup in May last year, and she’s not the only one.

From garden sheds to spare rooms to kitchen nooks, home workers have really upped their game when it comes to home office interiors. They’re lighting candles, using flowers to brighten things up, and surrounding themselves with inspiring home decor.

But this could end up being a bit of a problem…

The Return to the Office

As Government guidelines start to ease, and more and more workers head back to the office, they’re beginning to notice a big difference between the office and their home havens. Before, standard office fit out styles were the norm; we didn’t question them.

But now that we’ve been working from really cool spaces at home, it can be a very stark contrast heading back into work. Employees are starting to realise that actually, standard office interiors can have a really mundane, plain, and boring appearance.

Amanda herself even said that, when returning to the office, she’d love to take her garden setup with her. She’d want to “recreate that ‘spring feeling’ to provide a positive and stimulating environment which will make us all smile and adapt”.

And so it’s clear that it’s time to launch some major refurbishment projects, working to enhance the appearance of your office to ensure that your employees all feel comfortable, happy, inspired, motivated, and productive when they return to work.

How can you do this? Through inspired design. Here are a few of our top tips:

● Home-Style Comforts

This is exactly what we did for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme who wanted a ‘home away from home’ vibe. And that’s definitely something that’s going to be important in creating a good transition back to the office after some workers have been at home for 12 months or more. We essentially used home decor – sofas, mirrors, and wall clocks, for example – along with decorative items that serve no other purpose other than boosting aesthetics. That’s something that’s often overlooked by office fit out companies who focus on practicality rather than blending form and function.

Don’t think of an office as an office; think of it as a working environment and consider what employees need to work productively. They need to be comfortable. They need the space to feel familiar. They need to feel as though they belong. Home style comforts are key to achieving this, and to boosting the look and feel of the space.

● Pops of Colour

Take a look at pretty much any office space, and the most common colours you’ll see are black, white, grey. It’s really not surprising, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, those are the colours that most office furniture sets are available in. Secondly, monochrome and greyscale colour schemes are timeless; they’re not going to age horrifically like the avocado bathrooms of the 1970s. The problem is that these colours can often make offices look a bit mundane, especially for workers who are now used to working amongst the flowers and plants in their colourful gardens, or in brightly designed rooms.

The good news is you can easily enhance the look of a monochrome office with some pops of colour. We did exactly this for Specialist Sports. The black, grey, and white office space was boosted with the addition of sunshine yellow ceiling lamps, lush green plants, bold blue statement walls, and vibrant rugs in a selection of different hues.

● Lighting

One really important thing to remember as employees start heading back into the office after lockdown is that office spaces may not actually be as plain as they appear. After a long absence, they may just seem mundane in comparison to brighter, more vibrant homes and gardens. So rather than going for a complete office refurbishment, you could try introducing small changes, like adding more lighting options. This can be a great starting point (and it can help keep your office fit out costs to a minimum, too).

Our work with Starling Bank can be fantastic inspiration if you’re not sure where to get started. The bank combined illuminated signage with neon strip lights, spotlights, and suspended tube lights to create a bright, light environment that instantly lifted the feel of the space. So if you have a plain-looking space, simply brightening it up can help.

Looking for even more ideas and inspiration for enhancing mundane looking offices in the new normal? We can help. Our professional office refurbishment service can help you identify the best changes to implement in your office that will make your employees thrilled to be returning to work, and happy to finally get back to normal!