Lessons we learned during the pandemic and how they will shape the future of the workplace.

It was a year like no other, and one that saw just about everyone who could, working remotely. That experience had some good points and bad points.

One of the upsides (besides not having to commute) was that for the most part, productivity did not decline. People worked just as much, and sometimes significantly more, from their homes as they did when they came into the office. We all became adept at zooming instead of gathering in conference rooms.

The biggest downside we saw was that many people soon began to feel isolated and disconnected. True collaboration was difficult, and in some cases, almost impossible to achieve. A sense of belonging is important for people’s well-being, and across the board, companies saw employee morale dip to new lows during the forced isolation. By far the biggest reason stated for coming into the office is for things they cannot get in their home office: connection and collaboration.

By some estimates up to 90% of meetings will continue to be remote at least for the majority of participants. In a recent survey of our coworkers and clients, more than 85% of employees said that rather than return to the office full time, they would prefer to continue to work remotely at least part of the time. Hybrid work arrangements and “hotel” desking (as opposed to assigned seating) are quickly becoming the new norm.

This is forcing a paradigm shift in how companies look at their workplaces. The office is taking on a new meaning and purpose. People are examining what factors positively impact the human experience, and the focus is shifting from place to person; where what you do is far more important than where you do it.

Forward thinking companies already view their employees as their largest assets. The biggest risk to growth for companies, especially those in life science and technology, is not being able to attract and retain the talent they need. Offices with amenities, that foster collaboration and communication, appeal to the best talent. Offices with great collaboration spaces foster great teamwork and that in turn leads to better and more productive work overall.

New experiences for employees when they return, could make the difference in retaining or losing your greatest assets – your people!

It doesn’t matter if people go back to the office full time or on a hybrid basis, today’s spaces need to adapt and move from rigid and static to flexible and engaging.

One of the biggest challenges to remote work is that employees need to be engaged no matter where they are working. There will be a greater push to have the same capabilities and tools whether employees are in the office, at home or somewhere else. The challenge will be to improve their experience no matter where they are.

Most spaces will benefit from redesign. Pre-pandemic, around 70% of office space was dedicated to individual desking. Experts say that model is being flipped on its head and will be closer to 70% collaborative space and only 30% for desking. Collaborative and social spaces make meaningful communication quick and effective. They also boost engagement and teamwork and foster a sense of wellbeing and work satisfaction. All important parts of keeping your people happy, connected and productive.

If you are thinking that your workspace and employee environment could benefit from some post-covid space improvements, contact us and let us help you get started.