It’s been four years since the start of the work-from-home era, and while in-office work has returned for many – be it hybrid or full time – today’s employees are seeking work spaces more in line with the comforts of home.
It is this demand that birthed the ‘resimercial’ – residential/commercial – concept: think soft lighting, plants, art and decor, and new spatial-planning considerations to include relaxation zones, fully equipped kitchens, spaces to work out, and anything else that might make coming into the office worth the commute.
To adapt to this shift, and to attract and retain talent, many companies are increasingly developing or redeveloping offices with this residential sensibility in mind. ‘Many businesses are trying to understand how their space can better engage their hybrid workforce, and encourage productivity and company culture,’ says Adrian Davidson, Head of Design (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) for Tétris Furniture Solutions. ‘The good news is, there are forward-looking companies that are getting it right, offering valuable insights for creating office environments that employees are excited to use.’
Tétris Furniture Solutions, the furnishings arm of seasoned commercial design consultancy Tétris Design and Build, has played a significant role in partnering with both clients and suppliers to facilitate the evolution of existing spaces into more flexible offices that prioritise comfort and aesthetics. Soft furnishings – including art, curtains, rugs, cushions, linens and furniture coverings – contribute to this, and in the two and a half years since the inception of Tétris Furniture Solutions, the company has seen a marked increase in investment in this sector.
The statistics speak volumes – while office furniture remains a significant investment at 92% of the overall spend on a project, the notable increase in the soft-furnishings sector underscores a clear shift towards ‘resimercial’ design. In South Africa alone, Tétris Furniture Solutions has made a substantial investment of just under R120 million in the local furniture sector, constituting a significant driver of the country’s creative economy. Says Steven Fish, Director of Furniture Solutions at the South African arm of Tétris, ‘It’s a privilege to contribute to our communities, and serve our clients, supply partners and each other. Tétris Furniture Solutions adds meaningful value for makers and users alike.’
However, the resimercial trend isn’t necessarily a given for all projects, and within individual resimercial projects, the ratio of conventional task pieces to soft furnishings differs. Nonetheless, the trend offers an opportunity for growth in creating positive experiences for people in the workplace.
‘Improving the human experience means thinking holistically about employee wellbeing, their performance, and the sustainability of the space,’ says Davidson. ‘Simple design choices like increasing natural light, providing window access, air-purification systems and ergonomic furniture contribute to a healthy environment that boosts performance.’
Because new-normal work patterns are evolving, no one is sure whether a full return to the office is guaranteed – hybridity could be here to stay. There is no clear indicator, if you gauge how different countries are responding; for example, work-from-home hours are longer in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, and shorter in Asian countries like South Korea, Japan and Malaysia.
A multitude of factors, such as the length and ease of commutes, societal structures, company cultures, growing technology and industry needs, all shape the working structure of companies in the absence of lockdown restrictions. What is certain, however, is that the current hybrid work trend means offices are empty for a greater percentage of the time than before – something that surely requires the reconsideration and maximisation of available space.
According to Fish, ‘Work space, be it in an office, coffee shop, home or hotel, needs to adapt to and indulge a post-pandemic generation of workers. Users are more discerning, more demanding, their expectations high. Offices need to work harder to attract and inspire. Furniture’s role is integral to user experience: its attributes must be human-centred, flexible and sustainable, adding meaningful value for makers and users alike.’
Catering for the wellbeing and overall comfort of employees undoubtedly fosters a more desirable company culture, and a company with a culture of consideration is more likely to attract and retain employees who are more excited about spending time in the office, and with each other. For more information about Tétris’s industry solutions, visit: https://www.tetris-db.com/en/