Return to the Office: 4 Questions that will Determine Your Design

“We’re moving back to the office, but we’re not really sure what that should look like.” Sound familiar? Over the last few months, we’ve been hearing this a lot. As business owners are preparing to get their teams back to the workplace, many of us aren’t really sure what that means.  

Whether you’re returning full-time, adopting a new hybrid model, or still figuring it out, ask yourself what is really needed in your space. Embrace the mindset of creating an intent-driven office, one that focuses less on what should fill the space, and more on what your space is trying to accomplish.

As your office furniture experts, we’re here to help every step of the way. But that process begins with you — and what your return to the office really means. As you start the discussion, consider these important questions to guide a more purposeful, and ultimately, successful office redesign.

  • Why are people coming here?

    The office can be a space for anything from focus, collaboration, innovation, or social interaction. Ask yourself, which of these aspects is most important to your team? As employees adjust from a remote workstyle, they may need a space that mimics that. Casual work areas with flexible options of where and how to work could help returning employees feel the comforts of home within a shared space.


    Other employees may rely on the office as an escape from a hectic home life for a quiet and distraction-free space, while some may be craving the social aspect of interacting and collaborating with colleagues once again. Consider what your team needs to be at their best. And if you aren’t sure, ask them. Have conversations or provide surveys that allow them to share their expectations and concerns to make the return as productive and seamless as it can be. Depending on the response, creating a flexible work environment that embraces both private and collaborative areas may be the solution.


    And just as importantly, your customers. What do they need? Will your office be used as a place for customers to come learn more about your company or meet with your team? Is it an opportunity to show off what you can do for them? Identifying both your employee and client needs will help you find a greater purpose for your space and how to use it.

  • Who will be using the space and when?

    Piggy backing off our first tip, consider how your space will be used by employees. Before you can design a work environment, you should know your work model. Will your entire company be on-site 5 days a week, or are you using a hybrid approach? If you read our previous blog, you’ll know that even this model has many layers to it. Will some employees be in the office while others are remote? Will some employees be coming in on a rotating schedule or a as-needed basis?


    If your office is more of a “touch down” space for collaboration and discussion, you’ll probably want to focus on open areas and meeting spaces where teams can work together. If employees are coming in regularly, they may need their own private work areas with storage solutions that allow them to keep their personal items safe. Or if you’re embracing the middle ground with more flexibility for your teams, then you may want more versatile work areas and mobile storage options that allow people to choose how and where they work based on when they come in and who else is there any given day.

  • How will we communicate — with our teams and our clients?

    For the past year and a half, we all lived on Zoom and Google Meet.  But with more people now in the office, is that still the most effective way to communicate? Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. If your team is still working from multiple locations, how will you keep both onsite and remote workers engaged?


    A big challenge for business owners now will be maintaining the company culture across various work styles. When everyone was remote, we could all hop on a virtual happy hour, but what about now that some employees are in the office? Remote employees won’t have the same socialization opportunities daily, so consider how they’ll stay connected to other team members.


    Then there’s the actual work. Communication platforms have made it easy to connect from anywhere, but how can you make this even more efficient now that not everyone is remote? Is it call rooms with noise-minimizing panels or media areas with presentation screens and enhanced video conferencing? Or maybe it’s just creating spaces that encourage more conversation and foster creativity. The good news is when you work with Ethosource, the products and personalization opportunities are endless.

  • What will our office say about our brand?

    This isn’t a new one. No matter how you plan to use it, your office is an opportunity to nurture your company’s vision and values. A redesign is an opportunity to bring your space to life with furniture, colors, art, tools, and more that reflect your brand. For those who are coming back to the office, how will you make it a place they are excited to come to each day?


    Customize work areas with materials and fabrics that match your brand colors or let employees choose of themselves when it comes to chairs and storage. From thoughtful technology to bright colors to flexible furniture, the more effort you put into enforcing your employee driven values and making them feel welcomed and appreciated, the more likely they are to stay for the long haul. The workplace can express your brand, but it should also reflect the employees who work there.

The office is embracing all new meaning and importance this year. If you’re looking to redesign your office before your employees return and have more questions on how to get started, contact us to discuss your vision today.