What Will The Office Look Like After COVID?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the largest remote working environment in history and is leading to a transformational re-imagining of the new workplace. Employees are expecting their workplaces to change as they do not feel confident returning to the same space they left a year ago. Leadership is taking action – less than one in five executives say they want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic.
After a year of uncertainty, two things are clear – the office will live on, and we will not be returning to the way things were.
While many of the corporate workforce are hesitant to return to the workplace, people are increasingly missing human interaction and need to collaborate together.
In 2021 companies are rethinking how and when they use office spaces
- In-office to make emotional in-person connections, work-from-home for more in-depth individual work.
- Face-to-face interactions and team-based activities
- Enhancing collaboration and innovation
- Remote employees need to digitally connect with their in-office colleagues
Office Trends due to COVID
Increased focus on:
- Division and social distancing
- Flexible furniture
- Anti-bacterial technology + materials (UV/Blue Light, Copper)
- Hands-free features
- Personal + assigned storage elements
- Temporary adjustments become long-term changes
- Hard vs soft surfaces
Decreased importance on:
- Benching workstations
- Large open areas with no separation
- High density meeting rooms + spaces
- Products with many seams or folds
- High-contact and unassigned spaces
- Scarce offering of sanitizer stations or PPE for employees
- Limited opportunity to work from home
Scale of Change to the Office Environment
As companies have adjusted to the new environment, there are several stages of change to the workplace:
1.) Sterilization of the work environment
Introduction of social distancing, wearing masks, portable dividers, and additional cleaning frequencies
2.) Rearrange the environment
Space out existing furniture, create separation, reorient desk so they are not facing each other
3.) Expand and Divide the Workplace
Create individual spaces for solitary work and create small socially-distanced gathering areas for spontaneous meetings
Add new workstations that form neighborhoods of 6 people, side-by-side and back-to-back with “above the monitor” center and side dividers
5.) New Repurposed Space
Repurpose the majority of the company’s space for multiple uses with flexible furniture, break-out areas, and portable dividers
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