While the popularity of remote and flexible working began to rise at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, myths and misconceptions about the future of the office started to spread.
Working from these assumptions without any concrete industry guidance might prevent your business from making the best decisions for its future. So, as we prepare for the return to work, we’re answering some of the most common questions we’ve heard asked about returning to the office, to help your company step confidently into the future of work.
Despite the unprecedented success of the shift to flexible and remote working, employees still miss their workplace, with 90% of workers wanting to return to the office, according to WeWork. Workers are missing colleague interactions, whether informal chat or more structured collaboration, and for those working remotely with makeshift home office set-ups, remote work has highlighted the need for space designed for their work.
While some sectors will likely always have a need for more traditional desk space, many creative industries are opting for more domestic, hospitality-focused design. Desk booking and sharing is often a large part of a hybrid working model, although the dedicated desk might well become a thing of the past. With office design seeing trends towards fewer workstations, we still need to ensure that employees have the choice to work in a setting tailored to their specific tasks.
Employers can spend a little or a lot, depending upon their specific needs and budget. Many COVID-conscious measures, like wayfinding, desk-booking apps and more behavioural adjustments can come at minimal business cost. However, a more comprehensive redesign of your space also demonstrates a level of investment in your staff’s safety and daily working experience which boosts productivity, and encourages engagement that may have dwindled during remote working.
Remote working is a healthy option to offer staff on a flexible basis. While some companies are already using a distributed working model and plan to keep their teams working remotely with the occasional use of serviced office providers, many workers are feeling the urge to return to a private office where they can reconnect with their company culture, meet and collaborate with colleagues freely, and enjoy a space dedicated to their work.
Coworking spaces and serviced offices will help to support businesses who choose a distributed or hub and spoke working model for their business moving forward. However, with 73% of UK businesses considering a hybrid working model, it seems that companies will always want to have their own home, a space where they can really make their mark and curate their brand culture, and where a business can host townhall meetings and liaise with clients.
Re-entry strategies should be built on a foundation of trust through the five Cs: competence, care, calibration, communication and collaboration. By demonstrating that your workplace is competently COVID-secure, you can show your staff that your priority is care for their health and wellbeing. Collaborating with your employees by communicating and calibrating their expectations using ongoing surveys will create a culture that your employees will want to return to and engage in.
This is a very personal journey for each company: whether your business’s needs demand more or less space will depend on your own social distancing considerations and new working model. We’re looking towards getting our clients’ spaces to work harder and more efficiently for them, using space rationalisation techniques and offering flexible environments that can adapt to their needs as the future of work continues to evolve.
Work after the pandemic is going to look very different to how it looked before. With office design trends accelerating towards smart building solutions, wellbeing and sustainability-focused design and enlivening company culture, where and how your people work is more important than ever. A workspace created to specifically support your staff, with flexibility, creativity, and wellbeing built in by design, will ultimately generate high productivity and more profit for your business.
No one knows what the move back to the workplace will look like for sure, but we do know how to begin planning for it. Use this checklist as a starting point for formulating a plan to reintegrate your workforce into your workplace.download now
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