Managers need to stay abreast of trends, but let’s face it: Events have accelerated so quickly the past few years it’s difficult to keep up.
So here is a list of advancements to keep an eye on in 2022 for all the people responsible for creating a welcoming, efficient, and comfortable workspace.
Few of us were familiar with the term “remote work,” — and then Covid hit, pushing offices worldwide to adopt at-home work schedules. For a long time, employees were content with a laptop on the kitchen table because they enjoyed the freedom of working in their pajamas.
As we return to more office-based work, employees have demanded, and employers have recognized the value of flexible schedules. So while we again look forward to working side-by-side with colleagues we haven’t seen for months, it’s an excellent time to reimagine a workflow that can be more productive while cutting down on space and equipment.
Now we expect teams to form quickly, meet to brainstorm, and reform with new members for another project running simultaneously. That type of work is facilitated remotely with virtual meetings where all participants crowd a screen. When workers are face to face, small groupings of desks that can be brought together and broken up for the next task make teams successful in the office. Additionally, the desks offer voice and data connections for employees who travel with laptops and are not anchored to a specific desktop computer.
While many employees still expect to work at home at least part of each week, they’re tired of working at the kitchen table. As an office manager, you may not have to supply a desk for their home office, but office-type chairs, electronic equipment, and software may be necessary for project completion at home. Offices may need a secure space for visitors as well. Colleagues from other offices or outside consultants who had previously been content to borrow a few desks and make do are more likely to expect a space where they can confidently unmask and have access to all the conveniences of the home office. An approach with “Soft Architecture” provides temporary — but comfortable and functional — spaces within your existing structures. You can create a room for them that is private yet functional without bringing in the carpenters. “Soft architecture” includes:
Curtains, glass, or solid panels create privacy. And you can provide these defined areas for meeting without the cost of construction, additional lighting, HVAC, or fire suppression.
You might decide that many workers will no longer have an assigned desk. Or even an assigned floor or building. Desk Hoteling allows you to allocate workspaces based on need and a rotating basis. Employees may be assigned for multiple days in a row to the same desk while working as a team, but then for the next project, they are posted to a different desk in another area.
Work area reservation systems — software that allows workers to find open desks and reserve them — reduce conflict over prime locations.
Image courtesy of: abintra Desk & Room Scheduling
Similar to Hoteling is Hot Desking, allowing employees to use whatever desk is available. It’s often a first-come/first-served arrangement, and multiple people may use the same desk at different times.
Zoom, WebEx, Teams, and other virtual meeting platforms appear likely to be a permanent part of our working lives. The next step is integrating remote and in-office workers so they can hear all comments, see the same presentations, and feel like they are in the same meeting as a unified team.
Software designed to make those connections will pull together high-speed data and communication lines, multiple screens, and high-quality cameras and microphones. We are reimagining the space for holding those meetings as well. While they are quiet, secure, and roomy enough for the required number of people — the focus is now less on the initial impression when walking into the room and more on the view from the camera. Spaces, such as Philips Think Tank – an Executive Touch Down space, are ideal for an impromptu video conference between remote and in-house employees or to quickly organize a project huddle.
How to entice workers back to the office and help them enjoy it? First, make the office more like home. “Resimercial” is used to describe an office that looks more like a residence. The furnishings are rounder and more plush, rugs replace or overlay carpets, and wood and linen take over where chrome and faux leather were once kings. Another trend — “biophilia” — brings nature into the workspace and is based on the human need to connect with nature. Live plants decorate shelves, aquariums populate waiting areas, and the gravel lots seen through picture windows appear as parks filled with benches, shrubs, and flowers. Spending a little time with living things (in addition to humans) increases attention spans and reduces mental fatigue. Some companies have employed environmental psychologists to help create spaces that encourage improved — but relaxed — performance.
To observe social distancing, casual meetings are increasingly occurring in traditional conference rooms. However, conference rooms are designed for large-group executive decisions, so they are overly expensive and formal for small informal groups. Luckily there are better solutions available. Meeting pods are one option, often planned on the edges of large spaces like a cafeteria or open desk areas. The pods are semi-private, comfortable, and provide access to electricity and data, so employees can work and share information with their laptops. Pods are also a good place for individuals to find seclusion when undisturbed work is needed to finish a project.
Every grey cloud has a silver lining, and there have been a few benefits to the pandemic. Perhaps one is that employers and employees create new, productive ways to collaborate, share knowledge, and exchange ideas. No longer are workers married to the concept that they have one desk in one office. Instead, they are comfortable working with team members at an adaptive desk area that can grow or convert to different layouts. Individuals can adjust the desk’s height, sit in an ergonomically correct chair, and collaborate with colleagues for a day or two. Then, they might repeat the process in another part of the building with different people.
Intermix working from their home office a couple of days, meeting virtually and otherwise communicating electronically rather than face to face, and we have a more enjoyable work experience than previously.
In all these ways, businesses can look forward to moving into a post-pandemic era with more confidence and with a unified, fully communicating workforce that might be even more connected than before.
The Jefferson Group can help you create the right office environment for all your needs. Call us toll-free at (877) 978 – 8500.