Yet another pandemic by-product is the disruption of the office as we know it. Organizations will need to reimagine their workspace due to more remote work and a changing view of the office. We’ll see changes in office size, real-estate footprint, location and redesign. The role of the office will change altogether. And yes, very tight cubicles and dull offices are (thankfully) a thing of the past.
For the most part, there will be a reduction in office space demand. However, this will vary from sector to sector. Some organizations that rely on face to face collaboration will be pushed to have more space per employee. Done are the days where companies “tuna can” squeeze their employees into a small space. Governments and companies are being proactive in the face of the unpredictable future by creating more space between coworkers.
Whereas, inevitably, offices that rely primarily on technology will down-size or reduce their office footprint. We’ll see fewer companies grow their office employee base. Instead, companies will opt for smaller, agile teams and outsource remote freelance talent to fill skill gaps. They’ll also offer employees more remote options and flexibility. Splitting office time among employees will become the norm. Office real-estate won’t accommodate 100% of the employee base, rather only around 75% or 60%.
Organizations that downsize on space may choose to move to a more amenity-rich and central location. We’ll see smaller office spaces in destinations that are more attractive to employees and freelancers.
The Role of the Office
We’re seeing a massive shift in the office’s role from being “where work is done” to a site where coworkers meet, get inspiration and exchange ideas. The office’s role will transform into a place of gathering and collaboration rather than individual work (which can be done at home or anywhere else).
Office space redesign will include more safety and hygiene measures, “hotelization” design and redesign for collaboration.
Moving forward, employers must offer spaces where people feel safe. Redesign for safety will include wider corridors, better air filtration, touchless elevator controls, antimicrobial materials and so on.
Office space design will also need to shift to reflect the new collaborative role of the office. So step aside cramped desks! And welcome open areas with lounge seating and more conference-style rooms where teams can meet. New conference room designs will also allow for virtual team involvement with digital options such as tv screens and monitors.
We’ll be seeing much more “hotelization” of office space. Workplaces will import some of the home comforts (comfy couches, please). Spaces will capitalize on bright, natural light, plant life, comfortable furniture, and a warm design.