Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have chosen not to return to the office, but could a more appealing workspace tempt people back in?  

According to a recent study, more than half of UK workers (55%) said they would be more inclined to head into the office if the design and workplace facilities were more to their taste.

Just fifteen percent said that the décor and general facilities on offer would not be enough to entice them to go into the office more, whilst a third would still prefer a flexible or hybrid approach to working life.

After polling 2,000 UK-based hybrid workers, online printing specialists, instantprint have discovered the facilities and design aspects that are the most desired in a workplace, as well as those that Brits would be happy to do without.

Taking their findings, instantprint then used AI image tool, Midjourney, to visualise how the nation’s dream office space would look aesthetically.

In contrast, instantprint also asked the AI tool to create visuals of how the UK’s least favourite office space might look.

What does the perfect office look like?

Topping the list of design features for the nation’s workforce were sofas or a comfortable seating area (35%).

Real plants trumped faux plants with more than a quarter (27%) of the votes, compared to artificial grass and fake flower walls which were both favoured by less than ten percent of respondents (7%).

Additionally, woody and nature-inspired elements, and natural décor choices (12%) proved to be the most favoured.

A fifth (20%) said they would also appreciate an indoor pond or water feature.

Self-care design elements were also found to be high on the list of priorities of UK adults as both a quiet area for reading (18%) and a cosy area to take a nap (16%) proved to be covetable workplace features.

In fact, unnatural or artificial elements are generally pretty unpopular in offices.

A lack of natural light is a deal-breaker for Brits, with nearly all respondents (98%) saying they wouldn’t want to work in an office with a lack of windows or natural light.

Similarly, harsh design styles such as ‘industrial’ (3%), or the moody décor trend, ‘dark academia’ (3%) were also unpopular.

What about facilities?

When it came to workplace facilities, more than a third (34%) voted free fruit as this their most desired choice at work.

In fact, seven of the top ten most desirable facilities in a working office related to food and drink, with coffee machines (33%), free biscuits or snacks (31%), a fridge (31%), a kettle (29%), a water cooler (28%), and a microwave (26%) all high on the list of dream workplace facilities.

Facilities related to exercise were much lower on the list of desirables though, with exercise bike desks (17%), under-desk treadmills (15%) and an onsite gym (13%) all securing less than a fifth of the votes, respectively.

With more than 10.2 million dog owners (34% of UK households own a dog) in the UK in 2022, according to research, it goes without saying that Brits are a nation of dog lovers.

Perhaps it is also no surprise then that one in five (21%) said a dog-friendly office was high on their list of priorities.

In comparison, the opportunity to have onsite child-minding services was not found to be an appealing benefit of working in an office, according to 95 percent of those surveyed.

This was the case for more than double the number of women (7%) than it was for men (3%) and was found to be most important for those aged between 25 – 34 (14%).

Despite an ever-growing focus on being kinder to the environment, a paperless office (i.e., an office with no printer) was not deemed a desirable office feature with 96 percent of Brits not selecting this as a top feature. That said, recycling features were important for one in six (15%) employees.

Laura Mucklow, Head of Instantprint, commented on the findings: 

“We found it fascinating to see the difference in opinions when it comes to the nation’s dream workplace. Equally, it’s really interesting to learn that décor and facilities can be such a big draw for so many UK employees in heading back to the office – especially when it comes to food and drink!

“With an abundance of natural light, plenty of plants, woody aesthetics, and not forgetting the addition of a cute dog, the AI visuals of the nation’s dream office space is certainly somewhere we’d be happy to work from.

“That said, whilst the aesthetic of the least favourite office set-up is much moodier with less natural features, we think the office space still has a certain appeal.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.