The pandemic completely changed how people work, shop, and interact with others. More prominently, the global pandemic has ushered in the “work from anywhere” trend, with analysts predicting that about 25 to 30 percent of the global workforce will be operating remotely by the close of 2021.
Pre-pandemic, most organizations used the office as an official space where their employees could get work done. But that status quo will totally change post-pandemic. As economies across the globe begin to reopen, the office will merely serve as a secondary space to carry out routine meetings or team-building engagements, particularly for knowledge workers.
Thanks to recent advancements in information and communication technologies, companies can achieve just as much with a remote workforce as office-based workers. As a result, organizations will increasingly embrace the hybrid work model, balancing between home workspaces and traditional office buildings. The post-pandemic office setup will literally become a culture space, providing employees with a social anchor, promoting learning, facilitating connections, and fostering innovative, unscripted collaboration.
In this guide, we explore the trending post-pandemic functions of the office and how forward-thinking companies are creating a new model through tech-enabled design to convert their workplaces into social engagement and collaboration spaces.
How Companies Are Rethinking the Purpose of the Office
The post-pandemic office has become a different space that has to accommodate varying employee attendance and changing needs. New office design trends are emerging to meet these requirements. Therefore, office designers must choose the right furniture and layouts to customize how these spaces will be utilized for the unique needs of a post-COVID workplace.
From technology considerations to seating arrangements, the traditional “office” concept will be significantly different from what was considered the norm before the March 2020 lockdown. Overall, here are the different ways companies will use their post-pandemic offices:
1. Social Anchor: One notable downside of remote working is the imminent isolation from fellow colleagues. Despite being in virtual meetings periodically, many workers have felt lonely and pining to meet with their coworkers face-to-face. The limited body language expressed through videoconferences may also trigger misinterpretations and make team bonding difficult. Post-pandemic, companies will utilize physical office spaces to organize periodic physical events to help create strong bonds that influence their teams all year long.
2. Learning Opportunities: Remote working has highly impacted how knowledge is shared. In most cases, information is codified, appropriately scaled, and distributed to all employees through knowledge management systems. Unfortunately, many organizations may not make their critical knowledge explicit. Having a physical office can help pass such explicit expertise through coaching, orientation, specialized training, apprenticeship, and more. That way, new employees can learn the correct way to behave or handle various tasks.
3. Unstructured Collaboration: When employees from different departments and functions collaborate, they can generate new innovative ideas and solve complex problems. Surprisingly, such collaborations are often unstructured. They are triggered by casual conversations around a shared copier or coffee machine. So, it will be essential to provide in-office touchdown spaces for remote teams to boost unstructured collaboration and boost productivity. This practice is sometimes termed “hoteling.”
Post-Pandemic Office Design: 5 Trends to Watch
The risks of COVID-19 will stay at the forefront of office design for a long while, with employee comfort, productivity, and workflow once again becoming top considerations in creating workspaces. As employees are beginning to visit the post-pandemic office frequently, these office design trends will play a vital role in helping your business meet the new needs of a workplace:
1. Provisions for Better Health and Sanitation
Post-pandemic office designs will need to lay more emphasis on sanitization in the workplace. Your company should strive to incorporate health-friendly materials to ease the operational burden and ensure easy adoption of sanitary practices. For instance, you should increasingly employ furniture with antimicrobial surfaces or ones that are easy to disinfect. In addition, elevator buttons and other frequently touched areas could be designed with copper instead of stainless steel due to its impressive antimicrobial properties.
2. Minimalist Design
Employees expect the workplace to remain simple and free of anything over-the-top or too trendy in the post-pandemic world. Keeping a minimalist design ensures that the office is both functional and visually appealing. You want a design that provides mental clarity and less disruption. Additionally, minimizing clutter frees up room to create multi-functional office designs.
3. Co-Located Spaces
The office is slowly turning into a collaboration and problem-solving space, and the design must change to support the emerging trend. Depending on your business needs, this transformation might mean downsizing and decentralizing your headquarters.
By complementing your central headquarters with smaller offices closer to employees, your organization can create affordable collaboration spaces such as relaxation zones, amphitheaters, and event and breakout areas while ensuring a stronger focus on the community.
4. Relaxing Workspaces
Most remote employees have become accustomed to some level of comfort while working at home. By creating office spaces that mimic cozy work-at-home setups, you can keep your team motivated and happy when it’s time to return to the office. You may also consider implementing other home comforts such as full-service kitchens, pet areas, and outdoor seating areas to boost employee morale and enhance productivity.
5. Videoconferencing-friendly Meeting Rooms
Moving into the future, every company will always have employees working remotely, triggering the need for virtual meetings. However, with some team members attending the meetings physically in the office, it makes no sense for everyone to log into their devices to participate in the meeting. The simplest way to solve this dilemma is to design the office space with integrated technology such as wide screens for video conferencing, furniture with integrated microphones and cameras, and interactive whiteboards.
We know outfitting your post-pandemic office with the proper technology can be overwhelming. At Electric, we can help your organization transition to a hybrid workplace by providing all the remote IT support you need in the process and beyond.
IT powers hybrid work, and we power IT. We can give your organization a hand in transitioning into this new normal. Get in touch today to learn more.