The Office of The Future and Workspace Design in 2022 Interview with Diana Moldoveanu, Founder of DesignTherapy.ro
Covering a perfect match between psychology, journalism, and design, Diana Moldoveanu is passionate and surrounded by “beauty”. Feeling the need to create a space that inspires, by also adding a visible and lasting personal touch, she launched DesignTherapy.ro in April 2016.
Her platform includes design and holiday recommendations, including spaces that stimulate creativity. In her project, she often refers to the ambiance and all factors that influence our life quality in general.
Diana has experience in workspace organisation, promoting the “office therapy” concept in her work. This is also the reason for inviting her to answer a few questions, being eager to find out more about the office of the future and design trends in 2022.
We live in a time in which workspaces need to be reinvented in order to meet current labour market needs. In this context, efficiency and design are two aspects of interest for both employers and those who benefit from the newly reconfigured offices.
1. We have been working remotely for some time, and the future of work seems to be hybrid. Do you think that, with this change, people have become more aware of the importance of creating the right ambiance in their workspace?
Our perception of living and working space has changed radically in the last year. We have certainly become more aware of the importance of workspace ambiance, especially since it is closely related to productivity and creativity.
It is difficult to perform task after task when you work on the ironing board or when you set up your office in the bedroom, where the light is not so good for such an activity.
I could say that, beyond the ambient, this year also brought us even more attention to the functionality and organization of the workspace.
2. From a psychological point of view, how much does the workspace influence our professional life?
Countless studies confirm what you are asking. From colour psychology, which tells us that a workspace should be chromatically decorated according to the specifics of the business, to feng shui theories.
The TruSpace study, conducted two years ago in 16 countries among 7,600 employees, and aimed at measuring the biophilic design impact, showed that people working in spaces that included natural design elements reported 15% better levels of overall welfare. Moreover, employees felt 6% more productive and 15% more creative at work.
If the interior office design takes into account aspects such as leisure spaces, social interaction, and private spaces, there will be an improvement regarding concentration, collaboration, confidentiality, and creativity.
Another study, this time conducted by Herman Miller, says that when you are distracted from a task, it takes you 23 minutes to reconnect to what you were doing. If you work while your life partner uses the washer or your child turns on Netflix, it is probably hard to stay connected to what you are doing.
Moreover, the same study shows that working in a friendly environment improves satisfaction by 50%. Therefore, if you don’t set up a functional and pleasant space, you cannot be productive.
3. More and more companies are offering flexibility to their employees by choosing a hybrid work model. However, this decision also involves rethinking the workspace. How should an office look like to boost our efficiency and productivity?
Workspaces are becoming more user-friendly, that is for sure. More and more companies are focusing on design, out-of-the-box perspectives and the integration of leisure and collaborative spaces. On the other hand, we are talking about a different work context, where safety must come first.
An office should primarily support the employee’s health. I would mention here the technical aspects: sufficient ventilation, natural light, height-adjustable desk, ergonomic chair, and monitor/laptop support.
For example, Herman Miller has a chair featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection in New York because of his scientifically proven qualities. The Aeron chair has been produced for decades with high adjustment for any user. In the same family of ergonomic chairs, there is also Cosm, which can be adjusted automatically and is suitable for meeting rooms.
Regarding the workspace ambiance, it is ideal for employers to work with a specialist, so that the general design lines and elements, including chromatics, capture the company’s culture, to transmit its energy and values. The Zitec or Nestle offices in Bucharest are two suitable examples in this regard.
4. In the workspace reconfiguration, which elements of the “traditional office” structure can be kept, possibly modified, versus which elements will disappear?
If we talk about the classic workspace, not the home office, the individual workspaces will remain. They will not be the ones we are used to though, but rather versatile spaces, which can be shared between colleagues and easily transformed into meeting rooms.
On the other hand, organization is essential. In terms of health safety, personal items will be placed in confined spaces to reduce human interaction.
Moreover, in the context of hybrid work, the desire of employers to recall their employees to the office will increase. As a result, the office design trends include attractive and high-quality materials that will create a cosy atmosphere. Also, workspaces with lots of natural light, colour accents, and natural plants are essential in new designs.
Next year will bring another glorification of the personal touch and gamification elements. Put another way, we will see in the offices many fuss ball tables, climbing walls, basketball hoops- components that have not been taken too seriously in Romania so far although they have long been in the attention of international designers.
5. How does the hygge philosophy translate into interior design? Do you think that the specifics of this style are better suited to the “office of the future”?
Associated with the concept of relaxation, tolerance, and gratitude, hygge has long been considered a part of the Danish national culture. Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living and CEO of the Copenhagen Happiness Research Institute, says that the true essence of hygge is the pursuit of daily happiness.
Indeed, the office design trend in 2022 brings elements specific to this philosophy, such as natural light, plants, pastel colours, natural materials, even candles, and aromatherapy.
But hygge is not just about ticking off a list of items but especially about feeling present. This leads to comfort and gratitude.
From this perspective, we could say that hygge workspaces are productive, creative, and comfortable. That is exactly what we want from such a space.
6. Following the platform you created, DesignTherapy.ro, the concept of “office therapy” caught my attention. Can you tell us what does it involve?
When I started writing on DesignTherapy.ro, I wanted to have a therapeutic approach to design. In other words, I wanted to talk about how design influences and improves our lives in all its aspects, including our relationships with others.
Just as we discussed about the psychological perspective of design earlier. The office has always been an important component of our lives, pre-pandemic.
We are currently working remotely or in a hybrid system, but this option existed then only in exceptional cases. Therefore, under the concept of “office therapy”, I have gathered several offices that look spectacular, that practically celebrate the employee and offer him/her the necessary space for development and growth.
I am glad that I found such offices in Romania and I hope to resume their presentation soon, since it was interrupted by the pandemic. I will also include coworking spaces, which seem to be a welcome and necessary alternative for those who often work from home. We are social beings and we need human interaction, and diversity.
7. When does our office need “therapy”?
Whenever it doesn’t make us feel creative, productive or comfortable. A quick upgrade, without a large financial investment, can really make a difference.
Diana Moldoveanu is the founder of DesignTherapy.ro, Business Designer, and PR Strategist. Together with Diana Mihaila (Master Professional Organizer), Alina and Claudiu Ciobanu (media entrepreneurs), she launched a niche publication distributed exclusively online to an audience of over 100,000 people. OrDeLi talks about “Organization. Design. Living”, including workspace design along with products and services that encourage modern and sustainable living.