With so much change occurring in the world of work at the moment, from a business perspective, it can be hard to know which direction to go in. With more people wanting to work in different ways, and the pandemic reshaping how many industries operate, organizations face some big decisions around how they respond and thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape.
Among these big decisions, businesses will have to determine the role that their physical office space will play in the months and years ahead. Will they return to normal and host full workforces day-by-day? Will they become hubs for collaboration and team-building for remote employees that only come into the office occasionally? Is the most practical solution somewhere in between?
The right choice will vary from business to business, but some general trends that will apply to most are gradually becoming clear. Whatever the way forward for any office-based organization, three particular trends will hold them in good stead:
Giving employees control
Some employers may still feel sceptical about the value of flexible working, but whether they like it or not, it’s going to make a major difference to their operations going forward. That’s because those who don’t embrace more flexible working models for their employees will find themselves at a considerable disadvantage in the recruitment market. Zenefits research has found that 77% of employees think flexible working arrangements are important when they’re considering future job opportunities.
Ultimately, employees are looking for choice and control in how they work. They don’t want to have office work imposed on them, and neither do they necessarily want remote work imposed on them. They want the ability to determine working arrangements that fit in with their personal lives and that better support their physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, businesses should explore ways to allow employees to work equally productively at home and in the office, and to be able to move seamlessly between the two.
A flexible approach to layouts
If employees and teams are using the office differently, then the office will most likely need to adapt in order to serve the new approaches. Keeping the office as it was pre-pandemic – with every employee designated their own desk – will be extremely inefficient and expensive when each desk is only being used two or three times a week. At the same time, demand on certain types of workstations and meeting rooms is likely to fluctuate from day to day, and this demand must always be catered for if employees are to feel that visiting the office is worthwhile.
All this means that businesses should undergo a total rethink over their office layouts and the types of workspaces that sit within them. A reduced demand for desk space day-to-day, for example, can free up space for more meeting rooms or for more informal collaboration spaces like breakout zones. And this process should not be a one-off: as employee expectations and business demands change, layouts and workspace provisions should be regularly reviewed and adjusted as required.
Mobile workspace scheduling
Taken at face value, all of the above sounds needlessly complicated – and if not managed properly, it can be. The one thing that will discourage an employee from travelling into the office is if they can’t be certain that they can access the spaces they need. This could be either because there aren’t enough workstations or meeting rooms to go around, or because no structure is put in place for employees to make reservations in advance.
It’s therefore vital that employees are able to schedule their workspace usage as easily as possible. One way of achieving this is by using a workspace management solution that includes mobile app integration. That way, employees don’t even need to be at a computer in order to schedule their day: they can open the app, search for a suitable workspace that’s available at the time they require it, and make a booking straight away. They can also search for co-workers who have bookings, and reserve an available space nearby in order to ease collaboration. This gives employees the reassurance that they can get to work and be productive in the office before they even leave home in the morning.