There was a time when spending little to no hours in the office was an unheard-of suggestion. Then the COVID-19 pandemic came and pulled the rug out from under the feet of every office worker.
The sudden shift to remote work has changed the expectations of professionals on what an ideal workplace may look like. Safety has now risen as a primary consideration for returning to the office.
These changes beg the question: what then does this mean for the future of the workplace? Here is what your office is likely to look like in the post-pandemic world.
The Shift to Hybrid Work
According to global analytics firm Gallup, almost two-thirds, or 65% of remote workers in the U.S., would prefer to keep working from home even once restrictions are lifted. The other 35% say they would like to return to office work. This reveals that the remote work setup remains a viable arrangement for employees in a post-pandemic setting.
Accommodating both preferences of workers now necessitates a movement towards a model that is growing in popularity, which is hybrid work. Hybrid work combines remote and office work by putting employees on rotation for both. This allows a percentage of a company’s manpower to work remotely while another set reports to the physical office.
Transitioning to this setup addresses safety concerns that could be raised by employees while also allowing them the experience of collaborating again. Hybrid work, however, will require a well-planned workplace design to be efficient and effective.
The Workplace Setup of the Future
Employees will be looking for specific qualities in an office space before they feel comfortable clocking in regularly. These features will act as an encouragement to workers to begin reporting to work physically.
1. Good Air Quality
Even after nationwide vaccinations have taken place, workers will be seeking an office space that lets them breathe comfortably. After COVID-19, people will become more particular about the Indoor air quality of office space.
This will require a smart air conditioning plan that circulates air in your office well. You may require the assistance of an engineer to map out air conditioning placements. Regular AC maintenance is also important to maintain the quality of air.
Good ventilation is also now key to an ideal office space. This, with a well-installed air conditioning system, helps employees feel secure in their work environment.
2. Clearly Defined Spaces
The mindful design encourages productivity. Businesses must identify the most important aspects of day-to-day operations and adjust their floor plan accordingly. Consult with employees on this because they will be the ones making use of the space daily.
For some, this may mean creating more collaborative areas for everybody. But it also may require preparing more individualised workspaces for others. Respond to the needs of your business for a targeted solution.
3. Eco-friendly Technology
Research from office space provider Instant Office shows that 57% of businesses in Europe have been making environmentally sustainable changes due to demand from both consumers and competitors. Remote work rotations in the hybrid setup will also significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
Digitisation not only speeds up work processes but also reduces excessive consumption of resources. Investing in renewable energy, such as solar power, also drastically decreases power costs in the future.
4. Incorporating Biophilic Design
Biophilic designs will not only become a post-pandemic trend in real estate. The idea of bringing the outdoors inside will be a part of the office of the future, too.
These do not have to come as big interior overhauls. They can be as small as the placement of various potted plants in every room in the workplace. Wall art and paintings also contribute to a more biophilic space.
Bringing nature into the workplace does not only improve air quality. It also promises psychological benefits for employees. Biophilic design enhances the cognitive activity and makes workers more productive.
5. Health Inspections and Sanitation Stations
The health protocols of the COVID-19 era are here to stay. Temperature checks and disinfection stations will remain a necessary part of office protocol even when people have been vaccinated.
Contact-less technology will also be the new norm. Automatic or revolving doors will promote sanitary practices. Sensor-activated faucets and elevators will also be good investments for the office.
The Time to Innovate Is Now
This period before vaccinations have widely occurred is the time to experiment and research the best responses for your workplace. Do surveys among employees, too, to gain insights into their expectations.
Businesses that are well-adjusted will more quickly regain a working rhythm and minimize avoidable expenses in the future. Ideally, the post-COVID-19 workplace promotes health and safety while enhancing worker productivity.