The Rise of the Envy Office: How Workspace Trends Are Transforming the Modern Workplace

Nov 27, 2023
15 Photos by Jason O Rear

A summary of the most recent New York Times article - The Envy Office: Can Instagrammable Design Lure Young Workers Back?

In the ever-evolving landscape of office spaces, a trend dubbed the "Envy Office" is gaining prominence, particularly among start-ups and tech companies eager to attract young talent. This design approach blends the comforts of a living room with the allure of a luxurious vacation, featuring vibrant walls, plush furniture, and carefully curated decor that encourages employees to showcase their workplace experiences on social media.

According to Jordan Goldstein, co-managing principal at Gensler, a leading architecture firm, the Envy Office draws inspiration from elements of home decor, hospitality, and popular platforms like Pinterest. Notable examples include the headquarters of Marriott, redesigned by Gensler to incorporate cozy banquettes, library nooks, and even a tree growing through the lobby. This design philosophy has also been applied to offices for major companies such as Barclays, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

However, some employees perceive this stylish aesthetics as an attempt to mask the challenges of modern workspace arrangements, such as hot desking, where individuals no longer have assigned workstations. Companies adopting the Envy Office concept often emphasize employee retention, seeking to create environments that entice workers back to the office after a period of remote work during the pandemic.

This trend aligns with the historical evolution of office design, shaped by changing attitudes toward work and the identity of workers. In a recent global survey by Gensler involving 14,000 workers, nearly 40 percent reported that their employers had redesigned offices in response to the shifts in working norms brought about by the pandemic.

Ultimately, the Envy Office trend reflects a broader desire to make offices more than just places of work but also spaces where employees can find a sense of identity and spend their free time. The emphasis on aesthetics, social media appeal, and creating inviting environments mirrors the ongoing evolution of workplace aesthetics, with each iteration reflecting dominant social values and attitudes toward work.

Read the full “Envy Office” article here.

Goldberg, E., & Kodé, A. (2023, November 26). The Envy Office: Can Instagrammable Design Lure Young Workers Back? The New York Times.

Michelle Sample

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