The coronavirus pandemic has brought challenges to many across the world, with companies safeguarding their employees and adapting to new working styles that couldn’t have been forecasted. The roles and attitudes of the office are changing, with creative and bold reimaginations.
The speed at which the vast majority of office workers adapted to video conferencing and remote collaboration – many were surprised at the benefits of remote working. The time and cost saved from ditching the commute has benefitted many, giving them the power to define the perfect work-life balance. The employee is liberated and the company no longer has to rely on location when sourcing new staff – the world is, very possibly, their oyster.
Even with offices reopening as lockdown restrictions ease, the experience of the office won’t be the same with masks required in communal areas, social distancing, and movements around the building plotted out in the form of lanes and arrows along the floor. On the other hand, is the positivity of home working amplified by the novelty of the situation? Will the company culture suffer without physical interaction and conversations between colleagues in passing?
Both sides of the debate have merit and it depends on your company, culture, and circumstances of your team to truly decide your stand. Some individuals would relish the opportunity to permanently work from home, others would like a mix of both remote and office-based working, and some are looking forward to being in the office environment full time again.
How to reimagine your office space?
1. Revaluate your working processes
With the initial unclarity surrounding the length of the national lockdown, many companies packed up and continued as normal but with the same processes. But how do we change in the future? Perhaps during a new employee’s probationary period, regular visits to the office are useful so newcomers feel welcomed, can learn through osmosis and then graduate towards more flexible working. An organisation with a focus on talent development would likely relish face-to-face time and may wonder whether the spontaneous side of learning would happen in an isolated working environment.
The effectiveness of how we collaborate and communicate while working is a question worth raising. The traditional boardroom meeting scenario may not suit all requirements but more flexible social meeting spaces are becoming more commonplace – especially for spontaneous team gatherings. However, when in-person get-togethers are not possible there are plenty of tools for digital collaboration – from communication platforms like Slack, to project management software such as Trello and Asana.
You can ensure employees benefit from working in the office or remotely, by taking the time to revaluate your processes. This can lay a foundation for your operations to futureproof employer-employee relationships.
2. Match employee roles to styles of work
With a restructure of working processes, you can clearly define what types of jobs within your office can be done completely remotely, completely on site, or under a hybrid approach. For example, does your copywriter really need to be in the office? They may be happier all round if they get to work remotely, can live anywhere in the world and still work for an organisation that they love. Workers in this situation may be required to pay a visit to headquarters on a monthly or biweekly basis to feel part of the culture and catch up with colleagues face to face.
The office, in an increasingly remote world, has to become a destination for employees. The money saved from saying goodbye to the commute and being able to enjoy the benefits of a true 9-5 day where your free time is accentuated is going to be tough to argue against, especially when your competitors are offering that extra freedom. Companies need solutions that help improve collaboration, well-being and flexibility with many opting for additional spaces dedicated to games, well-being, cafes and even bars to bring the social aspect to their workplace.
See how we can help with your office re-design to bring your post-COVID space alive and make it the best it can be.