Cramming people in is not going to work anymore


Crystal balls must be very popular right now…

Because wouldn’t we all love to have one to guide us into the near future?


Over here in “office world”, we are working to figure out how workspaces truly should look. Through the mist, one aspect is likely – we are going to be working in offices with COVID still with us.

We reached out to Lee Fletcher, Canadian industrial designer and founding partner with Fig40 to ask about his vision for the future of office design.

While he admits he does not have a crystal ball either, Lee’s experience in industrial studio design offered insights on the increased workspace segmentation and privacy that is likely to be an integral part of planning future office design.


“Making a workplace safe is as much a shift in human behaviour as it is the design of the furniture that needs to support that shift”. – Lee Fletcher


To continue to build good culture and enjoy work, we must rethink and shift our ideas about effective design. Lee suggests considering these elements for the future office.

1 – Cramming people in is not going to work anymore

We used to see square footage as valuable real estate for any business. The goal was to creatively establish as many workstations to fit into the smallest space possible. The beauty of shared components and small spaces may not be applicable anymore. People desire wider personal space, providing some distance and privacy.

2 – Personal Health and Safety is going to be an ongoing fluid topic

What are are the easiest ways to make your employees feel safe? This is somewhat company specific, but will need to be efficiently addressed with commonly available solutions. For furniture considerations, individual workstations can be modified with separating screens. Tayco, one of Lee’s clients, offers a shield collection addressing many office issues. Items are versatile and can attach or remove easily from floors, desks, or walls. Company bathrooms, lunchrooms and meeting rooms will also need to be addressed with their own solutions to enable people to feel comfortable going forward.

3 – Inherent flexibility

Creative office design needs to build a measure of flexibility in the layout. That inherent flexibility will allow your office to evolve as our understanding grows over time. It seems likely that scaling up and scaling down will be desirable. Allow the space to move with your needs but still provide a sense of home and comfort and permanence.

4 – Think residential

Personalized space and bringing the comfort of home into the office – elements that will increasingly be in focus in the office. Residential style is more eclectic, and home furniture allows for separate areas to be together while being socially distanced. This influence will be seen in work settings… for example using mixed furniture pieces (rather than same over and over typical in work places) that can be moved around and reconfigured to suit the day’s needs. Workers will be comparing their office environment with work-from-home benefits and style so adding home elements like plants and increasing the modernity of the office will be appreciated. Tayco’s Halifax collection supports this home-life appeal with a warm, inviting, comfortable and relaxed residential scale while offering a tremendous functional appeal.  


Finally, Lee’s foundational piece of design advice is a great starting point- focus on people first and the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place much easier.



Lee Fletcher is an industrial designer and founding partner with Fig40, an industrial design studio located in Toronto. Lee enjoys partnering on projects for businesses and has partnered with Tayco on many projects.  

Lee’s passion and obsession with a made environment began as a child designing with lego and compelled to understand how systems worked.  He achieved an MA in Industrial Design from Manchester Metropolitan University, where he learned “how” we design and, more importantly, “why we design.” 

Whether it is creating new furniture systems, business equipment, or seating, Lee thrives on the evaluating process to find appropriate solutions and possibilities for every situation.

Need help creating or modifying your spaces for a fresh new office environment?

Chat with the atWork team today


Contributing writer Kim Hussey is the creative energy behind The Write View. From Cambridge, Ontario you can find her enjoying nature or writing from her heart. Go to to read ways The Write View supports your writing needs.

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