While we have spent over a year working from home through the pandemic, it is not a replacement for the office. The office facilitates collaboration, brainstorming, improved communication which helps to develop relationships, build community, learn and reinforce company culture, all of which are essential to running a successful business and can’t be done as well via remote working. However, what employees need and want from the office is changing post pandemic and so being aware of new office trends will be very important in getting your workforce back to the office successfully.
Flexibility & Variety: Employees now expect different working environments depending on their needs.
Post pandemic, the ability to work remotely or from the office depending on the needs of the task at hand is key. As employees have become accustom to a quieter working environment being able to work from home, the flexibility to choose the appropriate workspace depending on what they feel is the right setting for them is important in order to increase both productivity and improve the mental wellbeing of your workforce.
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to offering both flexibility and variety in workspaces. Some employees may prefer working from home, others may be happy to go back to the traditional working environment and some may prefer more collaborative, open plan, relaxed workspaces. Its increasingly likely that as employees return to the office post pandemic a variety of workspaces will need to be offered.
Privacy: Employees previously struggled with privacy in the workplace now this is a must for them.
While it is increasingly thought of that the office will more likely be used as a collaborative workspace with employees choosing the home environment as a place to get individual projects and tasks done, it is important to not neglect privacy in the workplace. Whether it be for phone calls, individual meetings, smaller projects, often a quite space to bunker down and get on with the task at hand is important in the workspace and can’t be forgotten about despite the emphasis on collaborative working. Options such as sound proof phone booths, smaller meeting rooms and break away areas a great for providing privacy for employees.
Touch Free Technology: Hygiene is a priority in a post pandemic workplace and technology to support that is massively favoured.
Touch free technology is a recent innovation being adopted by big businesses in the attempt to make their workplaces more covid-secure and hygienic for employees. As touch has been identified as one of the biggest ways to spread Covid-19 many companies are looking to reduce the need for touch in order to minimise the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus. At Virgin Money HQ, they have brought in gates, lifts and lights all controlled from an app on each employees phone and toilets using sensor technology. Employees also have access to automated refreshment appliances for teas, coffees and water again to reduce touch in the workspace. This is not something exclusive to big corporations now smart lighting and automated appliances are becoming very affordable. Additions like these to you workplace are without a doubt going to ease employees back into working from the office making them reassured the most is being done to support their safety.
Comfort: Workspaces will need to cater for employee’s comfort to maximise their productivity.
Over the last year, working from home has meant that employees have become accustom to comfortable workspaces rather than the rigid, traditional chair and desk setting. However, this is not a new trend as pre pandemic many enjoyed working from coffee shops as the relaxed seating was much more comfortable for employees. The need for comfortable workspaces within the office setting is becoming increasingly more important in order to facilitate comfortable collaborative working in order to maximise employee productivity and happiness. Options like high tables, sofas, larger more relaxed chairs along with kitchens and outdoor workspaces all contribute to employee comfort.
It would be incorrect to assume that these trends are a result of the pandemic and its affect on the workplace, they existed well before covid. However, the pandemic has highlighted the need for changes within the workplace showing how the way we were working previous is outdated and too rigid for these times. Every employee will have different needs and ideas about how they prefer to work and so employee informed decision making regarding workspaces will be key to successfully creating the most effective post pandemic office.