In the past few years, the modern workplace has undergone a seismic shift. The pandemic accelerated preexisting workplace trends, like remote and hybrid work, and called us to reexamine pretty much everything about how we live and work.


Executives, managers, and individual contributors alike have been scratching their heads and wondering what exactly is the point of the office. Does anyone need to go there anymore? Or, conversely, should everyone be forced to return to the office? 


What, if anything, is the value of the office in 2023? To answer that, we looked at the data. 

What Is the Point of the Office?

In-person communication can accelerate the onboarding process for new employees. It can foster connection between teams, promoting collaboration and reducing the chances of unnecessary friction developing (one need only look to Twitter to see the ways that conversations can quickly escalate online in a way they’d be unlikely to in person). It can open new doors for workers seeing advancement opportunities. 


The office allows people to connect in real life in a way you simply can’t replicate virtually because humans rely so much on nonverbal communication. Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher, was the first to break down exactly how much we rely on nonverbal communication. He found that the majority of communication is nonverbal (55%), and 48% is vocal. Only 7% of communication is based on words alone. 


Looking at the numbers, it’s no wonder that miscommunication can feel commonplace in virtual work, especially in chat-based conversations, where communication is limited to less than 10% of the tools we usually use. Emojis and GIFs can help provide context and tone, but can they ever make up for what’s lost when we’re stuck behind a screen?


When we connect in person, we’re able to use the full force of our communication tools. This increased connection, in turn, promotes mental health.


With all these benefits, it’s clear that the office isn’t going anywhere. If anything, the pandemic spurred changes to help the workplace evolve past presenteeism. We’re cultivating more intentional spaces and asking, “What are we trying to do here? How can this space be designed to help us do it better?”


Ask Yourself, ‘What Am I Trying to Achieve?’

Every workspace should be guided by what you’re trying to achieve in that space. Are you trying to connect and collaborate? Are you trying to harness play to supercharge your brainstorming sessions? Does your team need space for heads-down number crunching? 


The answers to these questions will help you identify what you need from your space—and what kind of office layout might best support it. Sometimes all you need to boost productivity is to move furniture around. 

Aligning Office Design With Your Business’s ‘True North’

You might find that your workspace leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe your company pitches itself as design-forward, but you’re stuck with a hand-me-down office set that says, “My body might be in 2023, but my head is in 1997.” Maybe you’re trying to convince clients that your business can be trusted to help them weather economic turbulence, but your furnishings say, “Just opened this business, don’t really know what I’m doing over here.” 


In the same way that humans rely on nonverbal communication, office design can say a lot about what an organization values, its goals, and how likely it is to achieve those goals. Our 2017 study found that office design and aesthetics matter to a majority of workers. When asked if design influenced what they thought of a company, 76% of workers aged 18–34 and 55% of workers aged 35–54 answered in the affirmative.

Is There ROI for Investing in Your Office Design?

If there’s one thing that’s certain for 2023, it’s that leaders will face added pressure to prove ROI for every initiative and expenditure. Upgrading your office furnishings to something that helps your team do their best work will:

  • Help you execute your goals. Reduce friction with a space designed for the work you do and supercharge your team’s productivity. If you invest in your space in early 2023, you’ll reap the benefits throughout the year—rather than trying to prove ROI for the purchase in the last quarter. 

  • Inspire your team. When a space embodies the brand, it energizes the team. Trying to energize a financial team? Give them a space that makes each contributor feel like a “titan of industry.” Looking to motivate creatives? You might not be able to move the team to a SoHo loft, but give them a highly Instagrammable desk and just wait to see what fresh ideas it inspires. 

  • Make them feel valued. Upgrading your space is something you can do to make your team feel valued. Let’s face it: Upgrading office furniture can be much cheaper than giving everyone a salary increase. This is something you can give to your team to say, “I see you working hard. I value you. I appreciate you.” Making employees feel valued prevents attrition, providing a strong ROI. 


Questions to Ask When Starting an Office Design Project

Starting a workspace upgrade with a strategic mindset will help you keep costs low and value high. We’ve helped 300,000+ companies create spaces where their best work can happen. We’ve found that every successful design project starts with 3 questions:

  • What is your overall vision for the space?

  • What aspects are most important to you?

  • How will you define success for this space-planning project?


Want more? Check out Questions to Ask When Starting an Office Design Project. 

Look for Furnishings That Will Stand the Test of Time

Time-tested designs will look fresh for years to come. In the face of economic uncertainty, reduce risk and prolong the value of your investment by opting for designs and silhouettes you know will age well. Our Statesman and Urban collections are perennial buyer favorites for their enduring style. 

How NBF Signature Series Can Help

In 45+ years in business, we’ve seen first-hand how hard it can be for our customers to create beautiful offices while staying on budget and keeping projects on time. We took everything we learned and put it into the NBF Signature Series—providing functional solutions in some of the most coveted styles.


Why do buyers return to NBF Signature Series?

  • Our collections are designed with you in mind.

  • You’ll get the most for your money.

  • We offer a wide selection of quick-ship furniture.

  • We’re unabashedly old-school when it comes to customer service, and we put it at the heart of everything we do.


Learn more about what makes NBF Signature Series special. 



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