2020 was chaotic for offices and office-goers. Not only did it force them to change the way they worked, it also eventually pushed them to rethink how work and workspaces have functioned so far.
And although work-from-home was one of the most disruptive things to have taken place across global offices, the idea that this would be feasible for the longer term vanished almost as soon as it began to take shape.
WHAT OCCUPANTS EXPECT FROM OFFICES
In a global survey from September 2020, two-thirds of employee respondents expressed a wish for a mix of remote and office work post-pandemic. A majority of companies supported this workstyle.
In fact, 81% suggested that the office would remain a fundamental requirement, either as a primary work destination, or in a hybrid format. It’s easy to see why. Office spaces are more conducive to networking, client relationships, and staff development – integral elements of company culture.
At the same time however, in addition to risks of community transmission and concern around employee health, respondents noted that employee reluctance to return to office spaces was a top reason that prevented them from getting more employees back into offices. While 67% of respondents expected that all employees would have access to physical offices by mid-2021, second and third waves of COVID-19 have led to complications (and more lockdowns).
THE FUTURE OF THE WORKPLACE
A compelling trend in conversations surrounding offices of the future is that they be redesigned to adapt to the creative, social and safety needs of employees. In this respect, offices need to be seen as spaces that can accommodate a range of human activities (including remote ones), rather than just plug-and-play spaces.
This calls for designing office spaces keeping distancing and smaller occupant numbers in mind, while making room for decentralised working hubs for remote or hybrid workforces.
With virtual, internet and cloud technologies making an indisputable use-case in a post-pandemic world, and smart buildings gaining momentum, the future of the workplace will also be tech-forward. This includes technology that will optimise space and energy utilisation, HVAC systems that consider safety precautions, and intuitive, smart sensors that can make the office experience more comfortable for the workforce.
In the future of the workplace, this all leads to employee-centric offices that are designed to support occupants using these spaces, becoming machines of convenience, flexibility, and efficiency.
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