3 ways the pandemic changed what the office will look like

It is time to reimagine the workplace as offices reopen. The role of the office is expected to change vastly post pandemic.

 

The 3 key areas that will see changes are health and workplace wellness; purposed and private spaces for focused work; and increasing role of the office for building culture.

 

Shot of a group of young businesspeople having a meeting outside of an office
LumiNola | E+ | Getty Images

 

Last spring, CNBC Make It asked workplace experts how the pandemic could change the future of work.

 

Brent Capron, the interior design director at architecture firm Perkins and Will’s New York studio, predicted workers would come back to the office on a hybrid schedule. They’d continue to do individual focused work from home and convene in office spaces redesigned as “elaborate conference centers” for large gatherings.

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How to Design an Office Reopening Plan for Effective Hybrid Work

As more companies embrace the hybrid work model it also begs the question –  what strategy should companies adopt to ensure a successful office reopening?

 

How to Design an Office Reopening Plan for Effective Hybrid Work
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Companies across the world are thinking about reopening their office doors and welcoming their employees back. Too many, though, are adopting a “wait and see” strategy–that is, they’re planning to unlock their doors and wait to see which–and how many–employees show up. Companies that adopt this approach are setting themselves up for irreparable damage.

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OPTIONS FOR SMALL OFFICES | FLEXIBLE SOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW NORMAL

Options for Small Offices | Flexible Solutions for the New Normal
  • Why Does a Small Business Need Office Space?
  • Office Space Challenges
  • Small Office Space: What are the Options?
  • What is Flexible Space?
  • Changing Mindset
  • How to Get a Flex Office
  • Tips for Creating Your Small Office Space
  • Conclusion

 

Given the events of 2020, particularly the need for physical distancing, the office space industry was heavily impacted. It suffered sweeping vacancies and a sheer drop in demand.

 

So it might seem odd that many small firms chose to keep their office space; some even signed up for new workspace and small office space, even though they couldn’t use it at full occupancy.

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4 Things Gen Z and Millennials Expect From Their Workplace

As expectations on how we work and the workplace are changing how can employers attract the new generation workforce back to the workplace?

 

  • Gen Z and millennials now make up 46% of the full-time U.S. workforce
  • Gen X and Baby Boomers prioritize their desire for ethical leadership
  • Diversity and inclusion are very important to younger generations

 

According to Gallup, Gen Z and millennials now make up nearly half (46%) of the full-time workforce in the U.S.

 

To develop the next generation of organizational leaders, every employer needs to be asking: What do our younger workers want from the workplace?

 

In 2018, Gallup asked Gen Z and millennials what they look for most in an employer — and their answers were surprisingly similar. In fact, these themes have only been amplified over the past year.

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The Future Workspace That Isn’t the Workplace

As offices reopen there is an on-going debate whether people will return to the office full time or continue to work remotely. Could there be another option that people can choose where to work from?

 

London WeWork South Bank. Image via WeWork

 

As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much speculation and debate about whether we will return to our old habits of working in the office 5 days a week, or if working from home creates equal or greater productivity. However, many believe that the future of the workforce will largely be focused on a balance between in-person and in-office working, and a form of remote working, that summates into a new, hybrid model. But if you’re not at home, and you’re not working, then you must be somewhere else- exploring the true in-between of a public and a private space. Enter the concept of the “third” place, which is used to describe everything from coffee shops to banks, and even co-working spaces. If you’ve ever studied for an exam at a bookstore, or even dropped into an airport restaurant to catch up on some work, then you too, have visited a “third” place.

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As Offices Reopen, Hybrid Onsite and Remote Work Becomes Routine

As offices reopen organizations are facing the challenge of managing the workplace to meet the needs of both employees and business. So how and when can companies reopen their offices in a structured and planned manner?

 

As Offices Reopen, Hybrid Onsite and Remote Work Becomes Routine

 

Having worked remotely for more than a year, many professional and administrative workers aren’t eager to return to their offices full time. Those who do come back are likely to find that office designs and routines have changed as businesses rethink the purpose and value of centralized work.

 

A number of the nation’s biggest firms have announced that post-pandemic they’ll combine workdays at the office and at home.

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What To Expect When We Return To The Office

While the workforce gets ready to return to the office depending on the industry and job nature this return could take different forms. However most industry experts agreed that the workforce will not be returning to a pre-pandemic office.

 

Lisa Killaby surveyed 20+ workplace designers and strategists on their plans to return the office, client expectations, what they see for the workplace in 2021, and finally what could derail return to work plans.

 

The survey conducted in late February 2021 included participants located across the US from Boston to Portland to Houston. The participants include individuals from design firms, brokerage companies and other allies with the common thread that all participants are seasoned experts in workplace design and strategy.

 

Most agreed that the workplace that existed pre-pandemic will shift to accommodate those who have learned to work from home effectively, those who wish to get back to the office and face-to-face collaboration and those that may wish to combine the best if both of these alternatives.

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FUTURE OF WORK: 3 COMPELLING REASONS TO BRING WORKERS BACK INTO THE OFFICE

How is the office still relevant in the age of flexible work? Despite the rise in remote work, studies have shown that most workers do not want to work from home all the time. Most would still want to work from the office a few times a week. So what are the primary drivers for workers returning to the office?

 

  • Gensler’s 2020 Workplace Survey found that only 12% of workers want to work from home all the time.
  • Why do employees want to go back to the office? For in-person meetings, socializing, and impromptu face-to-face collaboration.
  • But it’s also about health, as too much time spent working from home is putting additional strain on work/life separation, leading to stress and burnout.

 

By now, it’s clear that the office isn’t going away. And yet, with the rise in remote work and an increasing number of companies adopting hybrid work models, it is just as clear that the role of the office has evolved and the workplace is not likely to ever operate the same as it did prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Just because you can work from home doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to

The pandemic has created a now widely adopted work-from-home culture. However as offices start opening to welcome back their employees organizations have to rethink what workers can continue to work from home and who should be back at the office.

 

The decision on which jobs are heading back to the office and which can stay home will vary widely depending on nature of the job and the industry. So

 

Person wearing a face mask working at a desk looking at computer monitor in an office.
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America’s vaccine rollout is happening faster than expected, with the general population now eligible to get their shot this week instead of in May or June, as originally anticipated. In turn, some office workers in the United States are going back to the office sooner than we thought. When they return and how often they’re expected to be at their desks, however, could vary widely.

 

And as the return to the office picks up, the extent to which American office workers are allowed to continue working from home — which the vast majority of them have done during the pandemic — stands to affect everything from their satisfaction at work to where they are able to live.

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THE ULTIMATE DEFINING TERM OF THE FUTURE: WORK FROM ANYWHERE

The pandemic has definitely shaped the way we work in the past year. Terms like Work From Home (WFH) and Remote Work are now widely used. In response to the “new work normal” a new phrase has come up in everyone’s vocabulary, Work From Anywhere (WFA).

 

So what does work from anywhere mean and how will it influence the way we work? How will WFA shape the future of work?

 

  • The GWA’s annual conference covered topics ranging from the current pandemic to the impacts and opportunities for the industry with a redistributed workforce.
  • During the event, experts argued how the work from anywhere trend will affect enterprise portfolios and how flexspace providers can respond.
  • The demand for increased flexibility will require a shift in how buildings are developed and upgraded, according to the panelists.

 

In a panel discussion titled, “THE Defining Term of the Future: Work From Anywhere”, speakers provided their perspectives on how the work from anywhere trend will affect enterprise portfolios and how flexspace providers can respond.

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