For some of us, going back to the office seems like a far-off fantasy, but believe it or not, now’s the time to take advantage of an empty office and start planning for a new office design. 

As an interior designer at, I’ve been tasked with thinking through how to both make sure our employees stay safe and also take the comforts of “home office” life into the physical office. 

Here are three lessons I’ve learned so far: 

“Hang out” spaces should be designed for creative brainstorming 

On one hand, some of us have been at our most creative while working from home – oftentimes, working from the comfort of our own home has only helped our creative juices flow. However, many of us also lost that in-person collaboration energy – the energy that only comes from being in a room, with lots of people, brainstorming. 

So how do we make sure we’re comfortable – but also have the added benefit of working physically with other people – once we transition back to office life? 

My rule? Offices should be conducive to the brainstorming process no matter where you are. For example, designers often overlook productivity needs within “hang out” spaces, but these can be easily adjusted to enhance creativity. 

With the right placement – acoustic features, electricity solutions and ergonomic fixtures can transform these spaces so they are as comfortable as your home – but take your unplanned “catch-up” meetings to the next level.   

 Social distancing design, for productivity’s sake! 

We’ve all experienced it: the uninterrupted focus we’ve had while WFH, as we’re able to have the power to set a personal work mode without office-related disruptions. Besides considering a new office order and remote work agenda, an important lesson we should also consider is the implementation of personal space into our offices:

Designated privacy areas: Individually controlled areas allow people to find themselves in the comforts of their privacy without feeling watched or disturbed. These designated privacy-areas can coexist among open spaces like lounges and the kitchen. 

Flexible “privacy getaways”: Additionally, companies can incorporate flexible features, such as multi-functional partitions, that would enable a privacy mode. Talk about an instant privacy “getaway”! 

Work suites: Another way to achieve more focus areas in an office would be shifting a certain game or other concept room into a “work suite” that would allow isolation and full privacy within a fully equipped working infrastructure. Employees would be able to book it as a gap in their schedule in between meetings, turning the work suite on “do not disturb” mode.

 Try measuring interactions among departments to prepare for the next collaborative configuration

You wouldn’t think data would have anything to do with interior design, but surprisingly it does. Before we began WFH, we didn’t pay much attention to the interactions between departments. This can reveal a company’s true character and uncover unexpected cross-departmental collaborations. We took a look at which departments were collaborating the most and found some interesting insights: 

  • While we thought that R&D would collaborate with the product team, surprisingly, R&D collaborates a lot with our Legal department, too,  because of items surrounding intellectual property, such as specialized data and  logos. 
  • Also, the Big Brain team, which is the AI team here at, isn’t always working with our Product team – they’re often collaborating with customer success, in order to provide the team with detailed customer insights. 

The positive effect that this data has on our actual office can help us in two ways: to adjust our office arrangement and to learn who is interacting most, among different teams. If offices were to measure which teams are collaborating most, they could use the results to configure the new physical office – perhaps saving on square meters for individualized work and prioritizing open spaces. In a post-COVID-19 environment, this might mean continuously assessing and reconfiguring spaces to maximize collaboration.

What are the takeaways? 

WFH has taught us a lot about ourselves and what we want/expect in an office space going forward. One thing is for sure, we all love the comfort of our own home, but the feeling is difficult to replicate in a work environment. By creating a design that targets privacy, productivity, personal space while also considering the comforts of one’s home, companies can successfully implement more collaborative, human-centered, and digitally transparent offices for the future.