How Flexible Working Will Change Our Office Spaces (After Coronavirus Pandemic)
Flexible Working to Expand Following Coronavirus Pandemic
The Coronavirus/COVID-19 epidemic is testing how businesses can quickly respond to flexible working for their employees. Companies across the world are trying to main as much normality as possible without causing harm to their employees. Many have opted for a temporary remote working option. For the first time, many employees are working and managing from home, which can be challenging for companies who have never worked remotely or had just started to transition to flexible work. As much as we hope this is just a blip and a one-off, we must ask how does this all change after the pandemic?
Unfortunately, there will be more pathogens in the future. We must rethink the future of work. Businesses need to adapt long-term solutions that can accommodate our collective missions. If there is one thing to take away from the COVID-19 epidemic is that we are all in this together. This includes coming up with a solution together. Flexible work may be a solution that we can all work on together.
In addition to our 8 Ways To Help Protect Your Office Space From Coronavirus, we wanted to provide some thoughts on how office spaces will change.
As more and more businesses explore flexible working, they may find themselves not needing as much space. Some companies may opt to share office space with other companies. Shared office spaces aren’t new. They have provided contractors, sales reps, freelancers, and those working on the road refuge when they are seeking a place to work. They also have become ground zero for many start-ups and small businesses. Shared working spaces also provide companies who are transitioning into more flexible work a home where they can grow. There are many co-working companies but also as many firms and businesses like law and consulting firms sublet offices space in their office to offset rent.
Additionally, many co-working spaces – some are becoming industry-focused — are national or global companies with either co-working spaces in other cities or partnerships with other co-working spaces. Employees who work further away can also join you in a co-working space near them, and can choose to work from home or a coffee shop if needed.
The trend of open office spaces is not going anywhere – even if research points to them not being so productive. Mike Bloomberg also claimed he would turn the West Wing into an open office space if he became president. The photo above was NYC City Hall during the Bloomberg years. Proponents of open office say they encourage and foster innovation and collaboration and provide employees with a sense of transparency. Whether or not that is true, we believe open offices are not going anywhere because of the gig economy/flexible working.
Additionally, young people are becoming more and more comfortable working with more distraction. And yes, young people, whether we like it or not, are the future. Multitasking is becoming the norm. With more employees working out of the office, the need for closed-door offices seems to be no longer. Instead, creating dedicated and revolving desks for people will allow businesses to house employees who need to work out of the office, while also providing for those who do not.
The Shared/Dedicated Desk
Technology has quickly evolved how we work. Today, a lot of office work can be done on personal devices such as, laptops, tablets, and phones. If you want to share the work with others, all you need is a screen with WiFi/bluetooth connection. The advancement of technology has made the need for an office or a desk less necessary. Your office becomes wherever you are. Well, as long as you have a phone or tablet or laptop with you. Therefore, offices can set up shared and dedicated desks for employees who are working out of their office to set up at. They can also ensure a good social distance from someone else. Shared desks are easier for cleaning crews to clean.
All you need to provide is an outlet, so your employees can stay fully charged, wherever they are sitting.
The Common Area Redesign
As we mentioned in 8 Ways To Help Protect Your Office Space From Coronavirus, offices need to rethink how we design common areas, including our kitchens and pantries. Furnishing and surfaces need to be easily cleaned and disinfected. This includes limited wires. Kitchens and pantries need to incorporate innovation like refrigerator and dishwashing drawers. Companies also need to limit the number of surface space employees need to touch. This includes installing motion sensors on lights, limiting doors so they can swing both ways by just leaning into them with a shoulder or pushing with your foot, and encouraging employees to use stairs if applicable.
Location, Location, Location
Location will always be essential. Being close to public transportation can dramatically decrease employees’ commute. Long commutes correlate with increased stress, psychosomatic disorders, and sleep deprivation and can lead to low productivity at work. Office spaces closer to public transportation hubs can be more expensive. Still, the area itself can be redesigned to accomplish your long-term business needs and plans for flexible work for some of your employees. In other words, you might not be able to afford as much space near a transportation hub, but you may not need as much space as you thought, if you are transitioning to a flexible work atmosphere.
Embrace The Unconventional
Who says you cannot move your office into a storefront, a former restaurant, or a movie theater? The way we work is changing, and unconventional office spaces can help brand your company, encourage employees to think outside the box, and present new profitable opportunities. As employees become more and more comfortable with flexible work, they will become more comfortable, and perhaps may prefer unconventional workspaces.
We currently are living in challenging and unprecedented times. However, now is a good time to think about how we can address the challenges we are currently facing in the future. Together we will build the solutions for tomorrow.