As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be distributed all over the world, returning to the office has once again started to become the norm. However, the pandemic has proven to many that a workplace is not absolutely essential for work well done. This leaves employers with a completely different set of ideals and priorities to redesign their office space by- i.e. not simply as a space to work in, but a space that is fit for the company’s future vision, set by a workforce that is now accustomed to more freedom and flexibility.
The remote working patterns that were once forced by COVID-19 have accelerated the demand for flexible work patterns and offices that serve a hybrid workforce. As evident through recent research, approximately 53% of employees globally expect to continue working from home at least one or two days a week over the next few years. Along with several changes in the redefined workplace, working from multiple locations will also most certainly become the new norm as we approach 2025, with the majority preferring hybrid working.
1. Resize the footprint
Instead of simply adjusting the existing footprint, companies should take a fresh new look at where and how much space is required to foster and encourage collaboration, productivity, culture and work experience. This approach will also require a fresh perspective of where offices should be located. While some companies may continue to have their offices in big cities, others will choose to stray away from these headquarters for smaller offices in multiple locations, closer to employees’ homes.
The transformation in the coming years will also most likely include a wide portfolio of space solutions, including owned space, standard and flexible leases, flex space, co-working space, and remote work. These changes will not only improve how work is done, but could also cut down costs for many companies.
2. Design a hybrid model
Following the pandemic, the purposes of workplaces have changed indefinitely. It is no longer a place required to complete meaningful work, but a space to boost creativity, allow flexibility and collaborate freely. To accommodate this change, the design of the workplace must also be altered.
Hybrid working patterns are driven by the sole fact that most people yearn for the human interaction that the workplace brings. The office environment is also much more beneficial for team-building and creative collaboration than any other form of work. The new workplace strongly focuses on company community. This can be incorporated into the workspace by building collaboration spaces such as amphitheaters, relaxation zones, and event areas, to reduce rigid work structures and include areas where employees can mingle and work together.
A good hybrid office also encourages better flow of employees. Features like wider corridors and one-way signage help to reduce traffic in pathways and other crowded areas, ensuring safety and social distancing for all employees.
3. Redesign the workplace to support organizational priorities
The growing focus on health, safety, and welfare must have a significant impact on new office designs. Including fewer desks and more collaborating meeting areas, and ensuring that all spaces are adapted to suit the greater need for distanced workstations are two new factors that employers must take into consideration when redesigning the workplace.
Multifunctional work environments that make efficient use of floor designs will also become more common, allowing employees’ greater freedom in where and how they work. Breaking up an open-plan workspace into smaller clusters throughout the company, for example, encourages cooperation while maintaining healthy social distancing. Smaller tables and fewer chairs in meeting spaces encourage smaller gatherings, and standing meetings can reduce meeting time.
The future workplace will be anywhere and anytime. Employees want freedom in how they work, and organizations are increasingly focusing on the employee experience in order to help individuals perform their best. The basic office model is one of the many instruments to generate sustained human performance, experiences and wellbeing.
Ultimately, employers must reconsider the purpose of the office, and why employees want to come in. As the world slowly begins to reopen, designing a lower-density workplace model with purpose, safety and flexibility at its core will undoubtedly generate the best results for organizations.