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New approaches to office design for the new normal


With restrictions being lifted, many companies are no doubt keen to see employees return to the office, albeit in many cases on a flexible basis.


The loss of corridor conversations, popping your head over the desk to ask a quick question and building relationships with colleagues is a very real problem. This is particularly pertinent for younger workers, with 84% of them feeling as though they’re missing out on face-to-face contact which they regard as important for building strong working relationships.


Equally, no one can blame employees across the country for lacking enthusiasm about the prospect of returning to drab and now unfamiliar offices. For some, the new way of home working has been embraced. As such, there is a surge of companies looking to redesign their offices to entice staff back into the workplace.


With many companies now considering agile working going forwards, offices are unlikely to be at full capacity for the foreseeable future. If this is the case, maintaining existing patterns of workspace would merely result in rows of empty desks. Many companies are keen to reduce the number of desks and introduce more relaxed spaces for collaborative work.


More open spaces at work aids airflow in the office and reduces the likelihood of regular close contact, creating an overall safer working environment.


Similarly, as the digital transformation of the workplace has accelerated in recent years, spaces like post rooms and server rooms have become increasingly redundant. Buildings themselves will have to become more adaptable, which can often be achieved simply by converting spaces using partitions.  


If a company needs a quick turnaround in their office redesign, solutions like Knauf Airless and Knauf Drywall Partition Systems can help redefine layouts in a speedy and efficient manner without compromising on aesthetics. Knauf Drywall Partition Systems also possess excellent acoustic and fire protection qualities.  


Knauf Performer is a versatile partition solution that is lightweight, strong and easy to install. The system can utilise the extensive range of Knauf plasterboards, meaning it can be optimised to meet client and sector-specific requirements.


One of the benefits of returning to the office for some will be the absence of noisy children and neighbours, while others may have gotten used to a quieter working environment at home.


In an office environment, reducing disturbing noise will still be essential. Outside noise, such as traffic or roadworks, can decrease employee work performance, as can distracting noise in open plan environments. In a 2019 study of 2,000 workers in the US and UK, 69% of respondents reported that noise adversely affects their concentration, productivity and creativity. The worst offenders are conversations and phones ringing.


The Knauf Isolator partition system is also designed to reduce sound transmission between adjacent spaces. Combined with Knauf high performance plasterboards and Knauf insulation, the system can achieve an exceptional acoustic sound reduction of up to 79dB (Rw).


Furthermore, Knauf offers specialist ceiling and wall acoustic boards, including perforated boards and tiles with demountable and non-demountable solutions.


Not only can standard ceiling tiles be replaced with acoustic products, but some of the panels in the range can simply be fitted to existing walls to improve the acoustic performance – increasing sound absorption and reducing reverberation in the space. Retrofitting in this way also causes minimal disruption.  Knauf Adit is an example of one such wall panel that can quickly and easily be added for immediate acoustic improvement.


Knauf’s ethos is to Build for the world we live in. Providing architects, contractors and clients with solutions to improve employees’ working environment fits with this vision perfectly.


If you’re interested in learning more about what Knauf products and systems can do for you or your client’s office space, please contact us at [email protected].




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