The office of the future, COVID friendly and Efficient
COVID has forced many reassessments of modern life, among them whether businesses really need to have offices at all. Earlier this year many organisations shifted to a remote working basis almost overnight and we have broken through obstacles that previously existed in terms of more flexible working overall. However, although it has been possible to survive under these circumstances it’s also become clear that many organisations do need office space, whether that’s as a location to interact with clients or to ensure teamwork and connection that remote communication just can’t bring. But what does the office of the future look like?
Blended office environments
Mass working from home undoubtedly has benefits and this shift might be one that many businesses choose to keep. As a result we could see a much more blended approach to working habits with some staff working from home on a more permanent basis. That’s going to require evaluation of the furniture, technology and tools that they will need to function remotely.
A location rethink
Factors such as worker pressure to reduce commuter times and overcrowding in city centres could see offices shift to more of a regional hub structure with out of town business parks a more attractive option thanks to availability of parking. This could also drive a rethink in terms of office leases with tenants demanding more flexibility to cope with future changes as a result of the pandemic and landlords under pressure to offer fit outs for companies.
Catering to social distancing
Most existing offices simply weren’t designed to allow staff to be socially distant and so floor space is becoming an increasing key concern. A reduction in demand for workstations, potentially as a result of more people working from home, could see greater multi-purposed activity based working. Instead of assigned desks the office of the future may be made up of a wide range of different areas designed to stimulate group dynamics, creativity and agility. Desktops are likely to be swapped for laptops, providing more flexibility where design is concerned.
Robust technology platforms and innovation have helped businesses to survive and thrive during COVID and will continue to be crucial to the office of the future. Whether this relates to greater use of data in the business to improve sanitation schedules, introducing thermal imaging to gauge staff or visitor body temperature or to ensure contactless journeys to and from the office, IT is going to be key.
A focus on wellbeing and positive culture
In the past many offices have paid lip services to the idea of a positive and constructive culture but, without action, this doesn’t hold water anymore. Trust is now at the heart of the employer-staff relationship, especially where employees are expected to come in to a physical place of work. Offices that are designed with wellbeing in mind and where a positive culture is at the heart of the organisation are much more likely to attract the best and brightest talent.
The office of the future is going to be changed by COVID but not necessarily for the worst. Greater efficiency and more focus on wellbeing are two of the positive changes we could see. Office fit out companies will be needed to revamp how we work.