Having heard so much about it over the last few months, we are all starting to slowly see what the ‘new normal’ looks like. Shops, bars, restaurants, gyms and many other recreational facilities have now reopened in certain regions, and we’ve all had to adjust to new procedures around social distancing measures, face coverings and other considerations.
But what about our workplaces?
Millions of people all over the world are still working from home, and while many of them may find that this arrangement will be in place for a while longer, there will still be countless businesses who will need to bring their employees back into a physical workspace; a space that enables collaboration, and aids in productivity.
So what can you do to ensure your workforce can safely and confidently return to the office, in a way that doesn’t hinder your business operations?
In a recent webinar co-hosted with our trusted partner Oktra, an award-winning office design company, we looked into function requirements and space design for the future of our workplace; there were three key takeaways to take note of on this subject matter:
1. From change comes opportunity
Any change in circumstances can deliver opportunities for any business, and as difficult as COVID-19 has been for all enterprises, the post-pandemic recovery is no exception to this. Never before have organizations had a chance to combine the best of both worlds, by taking the best of the workplaces we knew and combining them with new ways of working.
That way, it’s possible to deliver increased flexibility and adaptability that supports better employee experiences and a stronger and most positive culture across the workforce.
A major part of this will be a move away from office space that is focused on maximizing capacity and getting the most out of every square foot. In the future, workers will want to come into the office only when needed, and only into a more spaced-out environment where they can feel safe. Right-sizing an individual environment for this approach could be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be guesswork: analytics and management tools can shed light on how exactly a space is required, and how best to balance that with the needs of every worker and team.
2. Building for tomorrow
How you rearrange your physical workspaces for reopening will form the first building blocks into what those workspaces look like long-term. Having a smaller number of bigger desks to give employees more space may well become a more permanent arrangement as workers get used to being distanced, and other areas may be redeployed for better productivity and collaboration, like regularly sanitized hot desks and breakout zones.
Ultimately, what this will mean is an office environment that is focused more on the user than the needs of the business. Gone will be the days of bringing everybody in from nine to five in order to get their set tasks done. The future will be one of workers that come in when they have a reason to be there to be productive or to team up with colleagues, or when they can play a part in building a stronger culture of community.
No longer will a person’s job be defined by where they work: it will be defined by how they work.
3. Making it happen with technology
Such a profound change needs a complete, considered approach to making it a success. Oktra has identified key factors in implementing a successful ‘reintegration’, including:
- Shift working and scheduling
- Communication and training
- Remote work set-up
- Cleaning and maintenance
- IT considerations like Audio-Visual and Video Collaboration
All of these can be managed through integrated workspace scheduling technology that promotes productivity and gives employees the flexibility they want as we rethink and reshape our workspaces today.
Visit Office Design for the Post COVID-19 Workplace to watch the full webinar for more insights.
*Thank you to Oktra for sharing their insights with us in the webinar recording; they also have a helpful guide to support you in your office design planning for post-COVID-19 landscape, download your copy here.