By Matthew Jones
The news has been full of stories promising the great “return to the office” model for more than a year. As companies across the globe look to abandon the “new normal” remote workforce, employees continue to stall most efforts to leave their home offices. While Bloomberg reports that industry giants such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. maintain work-from-home options, other tech leaders—notably Apple Inc.—are putting an end to five-day flexibility.
Of course, many smaller and regional companies have been operating with a hybrid model for months. In addition, large numbers of offices returned to campuses nearly two years ago. This pattern of company size playing a part in the speed with which employees are bringing employers back to the office is global. The recent paper, A Reset for Return to the Office? The Journey to Hybrid Working, written in conjunction with WorkTech Academy, surveyed employers and employees in nine European countries and concluded that 64% of employees are unwilling to return to the office. This reluctance reverberates across surveys of U.S. employees, as well.
Leaders who need to enforce the return to in-office work are looking for ways to welcome teams back while empathizing with their reluctance. One way to show employer support is to refresh shared spaces and foster a feeling of hospitality to ease the transition. Here’s where commercial interior and industrial designers have an enormous opportunity to offer solutions that boost employee happiness, inspire an enjoyable in-office atmosphere and promote health and wellness.
The team at Level continues to raise the bar with bold wallcovering options that uplift and enhance any office setting. Focusing on themes with cheerful messaging, bold graphics and serene nature themes, the new Level high-quality wall décor products elevate every space—from lobbies to conference rooms. Plus, leaving no surface unadorned, the Level line of fun window film designs is full of color and brightness. These functional semi-transparent clings also offer an easy-to-install way to increase semi-private spaces for teams used to working solo at home. In addition, the Level Keep Growing Mural wallcovering is available in five standard colorways to fit every corporate branded palette. So, step away from the gray and add inspiration.
Inspiration with Intention
Blending Dynamics and Drama
As management teams explore the possibility of a hybrid in-office and work-from-home week, commercial designers are looking for creative ways to blend central themes for office settings. For example, creating small, intimate environments within large offices or medical spaces prioritizes the new ideal of privacy with warmth and informal charm. York Contract offers one of the best ways to achieve this model with their high-performance Type II products. A newcomer to York Contract technologies, antimicrobial protection will now become standard, along with durability and stain resistance, for most Type II collections. And while cleanliness is critical in high-traffic spaces, York knows commercial designers do not want to sacrifice the psychological impacts of color, design and style. That’s why the York High-Performance Type II line includes an incredible variety of themes featuring concepts from calm biophilic naturals to unique modern geometrics—all available in multiple bright color schemes and patterns that immediately elevate every space. Who doesn’t want to work here?
Travel to Exotic and Tranquil Destinations
While employers ask most employees to travel across town, the Phillip Jeffries Prosper line of wallcoverings transports any office space to a global locale. Navigate a tranquil walk through a Japanese forest when your lobby features the Phillip Jeffries Prosper line of luxury wallcoverings. The images of soaring bamboo are available in seven glamourous colors for a design that allows the imagination to be swept away by the modern design, clean aesthetic and calming spirit of a hand-painted natural oasis. The team at Phillip Jeffries is known for its unique digital mural wallcoverings that deliver striking appeal.
Fresh and Clean
Returning to the office after living through a pandemic may be daunting to many employees. Companies and commercial designers know the importance of wallcoverings that look and perform beautifully. That’s why Len-Tex introduced the first and only GreenCircle Certified® vinyl wallcovering collection. Ideal for any office environment, the Clean Vinyl Technology wallcovering line is manufactured with the protective Ultra-Fresh antimicrobial compound that safeguards office walls from bacteria, mold and mildew. The Aqua-Clear 3.0 water-based topcoat adds a layer of environmentally friendly protection for superior durability. Featuring subtle designs that mimic natural elements and textures, the Len-Tex Clean Vinyl Technology wallcoverings contain zero phthalates, PFAs or harsh chemicals and ensure improved Indoor Air Quality (certified by SCS Global). So, breathe in the freshness and work in confidence.
J. Josephson’s Raffia Weave line is the perfect balance between organic and dynamic glamour as a proper paper weave. Thin paper ribbons are woven with an open weave to let the background color emerge. Monochromatic hues in natural tones embody a warm, comfortable feel, presenting a peaceful experience in shared spaces. Alternatively, glamorous metallic options turn this woven material into a dramatic backdrop. Utilizing state-of-the-art printing and recycled printing inks, J. Josephson promotes energy efficiency and sustainability so designers can reiterate their commitment to sourcing the environmentally conscience materials employees expect from their employers.
While our ways of working have forever shifted, there’s little doubt many employers will continue to promote the value of flexible and hybrid in-office work expectations. Commercial designers have the distinct opportunity to facilitate a connection between those who resist coming back to campus with the creation of spaces that are colorful, inviting and clean. With the addition of new, innovative and fashion-forward wallcovering, corporate spaces are immediately alive with inspiration and motivation.
Matthew Jones is executive director of the Wallcoverings Association, a nonprofit trade association representing wallcoverings manufacturers, distributors and suppliers. The WA educates consumers, designers and specifiers about the beauty and use of wallcoverings. The association keeps the industry at the forefront of sustainability with specifier tools such as NSF 342, Sustainability Scorecards and Environmental Product Declarations. Designers and design students can obtain an industry sample book from the WA at www.wallcoverings.org/samplebooks.