No Longer Inspired, the Hospitality Experience is the New Workplace

January 2024 | Work Design Magazine

“How can we create an environment where employees actually want to be, rather than feel obligated to be?”

Lauren Gardner, Director of Creative + Strategy shares the top hospitality trends helping organizations to entice employees to return to the office with Work Design Magazine.

Architects and designers have taken a leading role in addressing this challenge with the ultimate goal of enhancing the workplace experience and turning it into a place that employees genuinely look forward to commuting to. This evolution goes beyond the superficial addition of trendy amenities; it involves a holistic approach to office design, drawing inspiration from the hospitality industry to create spaces that evoke the comfort and energy of a local coffee shop or the luxury of a high-end hotel. By reshaping the workplace and making hospitality a part of its DNA, organizations provide employees with an inviting and engaging environment that makes the commute a journey worth taking.

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A shift in the office atmosphere.

In the past, office design primarily emphasized functionality and efficiency, often overlooking aesthetics and the overall employee experience. However, in this era of hybrid work, there has been a notable shift in how offices are being designed. Companies now understand the vital role that the office environment plays in promoting employee well-being, driving engagement, fostering innovation, and creating a destination where employees want to be.

Recent data from Open Table shows that approximately half of remote workers choose to spend a portion of their working hours in coffee shops and other third spaces, such as libraries, hotels, and coworking hubs.  When designing today’s workplace, it is important to recognize the significance of this data and use it to inspire spaces that nurture the spontaneous interactions, sense of community, and comfort and appeal that these other environments provide.

This shift goes beyond the basics, as architects and designers understand that creating a hospitality-forward office means paying meticulous attention to detail. Every aspect, from the array of amenities to the diversity of workspaces, contributes to an environment that feels welcoming and sophisticated.


Luxury, sophistication, and comfort are the hallmarks of hospitality design, and these attributes are now being translated into office spaces. Architects and designers carefully choose materials that not only look appealing but also provide a tactile and sensory experience. Warm woods, polished stone, biophilic elements, rich textiles, and feature lighting create an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation, ensuring that every surface, from the floors to the walls, contributes to the overall hospitality-influenced ambiance.

A home away from home.

One of the key challenges in making the daily commute appealing is counteracting the costs and inconvenience it often involves. Employers are increasingly recognizing the need to create office spaces that provide the same level of control and flexibility that employees experience at home. This approach acknowledges the blurring boundaries between personal and professional life, as employees seek environments that cater to their diverse needs and preferences.

In the modern office, employees can find a variety of workspaces, each designed to replicate the comforts of home. Employees can choose to work at a kitchen island, settle into a cozy couch, or find a quiet corner that suits their working style. This flexibility helps bridge the gap between the home and the office, reducing the reluctance to commute and fostering a stronger sense of belonging within the workspace.

Every employee needs moments of respite during the workday. Architects and designers recognize that productivity can’t be sustained continuously, and that taking breaks and finding personal time for reflection are crucial for well-being. In the hospitality-forward office, these needs are catered to through the inclusion of art installations and separate lounge areas. These spaces offer employees the freedom to choose how they spend their downtime, whether it’s finding a quiet spot for introspection surrounded by thought-provoking art or engaging in lively discussions with colleagues in a comfortable lounge area. This emphasis on relaxation and rejuvenation creates a diverse range of experiences within the workplace.

Tailoring the design to the brand.

Not all organizations are the same, and architects and designers recognize the importance of aligning the office design with the unique culture and values of the brand. What constitutes hospitality can vary greatly from one company to another. Whether it’s a tech startup fostering creativity and innovation or a law firm focused on client interactions, the design of the office should reflect the brand’s identity.

Designing an office that aligns with the organization’s culture involves understanding the specific needs and expectations of both employees and clients. This tailored approach ensures that the office design not only looks the part but also functions in a way that supports the company’s objectives.

Some offices have even taken this concept to the next level, incorporating features like butler’s pantries, hospitality bars, chef’s kitchens, barista-staffed coffee setups, multilevel rooftops, and even game rooms. These features offer a memorable experience to employees, clients and guests, making the office a hub of activity and engagement that fosters positive relationships and leaves a lasting impression.

In this new era of office design, the workplace experience is elevated to a level where employees genuinely look forward to commuting to the office. The office becomes more than just a place of work; it transforms into a destination where individuals are valued and inspired. As architects and designers continue to push the boundaries of traditional office design, the future of the workplace promises to be a warm environment that employees will willingly make the journey to each day.