Office Space – What Will the New Normal Look Like?
In light of recent events, it’s no secret that the nature of work has changed forever. This will be clearest in the future of the office space and what our office spaces will look like in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve written before about how to create a safe and healthy workspace that takes into account recommendations and how to rework your office space to meet these expectations. We’ve even launched our free Return to Work consultations to offer professional recommendations to make COVID-19 safe workspaces a reality. But beyond the pandemic, what can we expect? What are the new normals for workspaces and office culture?
- People will continue to work from home
Coming off the back of the mass move to work from home business practices, many companies may find that a percentage of their staff have enjoyed the opportunity – but this doesn’t mean that the future of physical office spaces is dire. Companies are always going to need functional centre hubs, and there will always be people who feel better and more productive having an office space to go to and work.
But the new normal for offices is going to require fewer people on site at any one time. This gives employers the opportunity to support and best use the number of staff who have flourished in the work from home environment. In a recent Future of Workspace seminar it was suggested up to 60-80% of office staff workers don’t want to re-commence working in the traditional office based 9-5 norm, instead they are looking to find a balance of home and office based work life.
By distinguishing those people within your workforce, and bringing back those who prefer being in the office, along with essential staff, businesses can grasp how different people work to get the best from their employees. The new normal will see a more mobile and transitional workforce with more people working from home, knowing who works best from which environment will help businesses adapt to the new normal.
- Meaningful first
While we have always taken a meaningful approach to designing and creating deliberate work experiences, our leading philosophy is becoming commonplace as businesses strive to become and stay relevant to their staff. Workplace design will take a ‘needs’ approach with an emphasis on offices being a social hub away from the home workspace. This suggests offices will require more face to face meeting spaces and collaborative working zones. Pending the business’ needs, often desk spaces are altered during the deliberate design phase, and we expect to see this more into the future.
- Digital Upgrades – Not Just Nice, A Necessity
The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled a lot of business practices into light as companies have had to adapt and change to this new work environment. As the office environment has had to change and adapt, the digital ability to do so has been of highest importance. Investing in digital upgrades in office environments will be a necessity moving forward.
Digital white boards, tele-conferencing meeting rooms and communication technologies such as Zoom, Microsoft teams and Skype are all practical ways to keep daily work communication flowing. It will now have become clear to any businesses where potential IT weaknesses lie in the company infrastructure – seeing the opportunity to pinpoint and improve on those weaknesses will hold a business in good stead for the future.
- Healthy Workers = Healthy Business
Making sure your office space complies with post COVID-19 recommendations will be key to the new normal of work spaces. There is a natural unease amongst employees who work in communal spaces, and returning to those communal spaces may feel jarring and difficult to those who inhabit them. So making sure your office space is healthy and “COVID-Safe” is not just about the physical, but the mental health of your workers. Installing things like sneeze screens, foot traffic flow markers, and making sanitary improvements to common spaces like kitchens and bathrooms will be a key factor in the modern office, not just while we resume business as usual, but for future business practices as well.
The future of offices is the question on everyone’s mind at the moment. When the transition back into the workspace begins to take place, it’s important to adapt to the new normal and make sure your office space and your people are healthy, happy, and safe. By allowing flexibility for staff, making sure your IT is modern, functional and up to date, and your space feels like a safe, empowering and healthy environment, you’ll be able to take the next steps into the future in the strongest form. If you’re interested in creating a space that works, make sure you sign up for our free Return to Work consultation. And for more information, hints and tips on how to create beautiful, functional and empowering workplaces sign up for the newsletter here.