As the world gets to grips with remote working, it’s inevitable that questions will be asked about the direction in which modern workspace design is headed. Once the Covid-19 lockdown is over, and once working from home with just the cat for companionship are behind us, how accepting will we be of our workspaces? What happens next?
In the current climate, it may be easy to conclude that the death knell is being sounded for the office. As Zoom video calls become the new face-to-face, some may be enjoying working from home, (trust us, we’re very aware of the perks of avoiding rush hour Tubes and never-ending traffic jams). Look deeper though, and it seems many, many more are itching to get some normality back in their lives.
The last month or so have served as one huge, impromptu working-from-home experiment. Obvious perks aside, the chances are that you’re all too aware of the issues with your new ‘virtual workplace’. While broadband reliability and the ergonomics of your kitchen table are things that can be fixed, not everything can be solved so easily. We’re talking about the free-flowing interactions you have with your team, the friendships made by being around like-minded people, and the quick drink at the pub after work. Maybe a bit of time at the office could be just what we need once this is all over.
Speaking of which, once the dust settles, there is one clear trend that we’re expecting to see. In order to understand, it helps to think a little about what changes people have made over the last few weeks and months.
Somewhat ironically, the lockdown allows those who don’t typically have the freedoms of flexible working, to get something of a feel for what that’s like. Depending on their mood and what task they’re doing, individuals are experiencing the ability to choose where they want to work right now. This could be a desk in their home office, but could equally be a sunny spot in the back garden, or with their feet up on the sofa. This is one of the big perks of working from home – if their office can’t provide something similar, will they really enjoy being back there?
Moving forward, it will be more essential than ever that employers not only allow this flexibility but truly embrace and encourage it in their workspace. Studies over the years have proven the increases in employee satisfaction, and demonstrated the links to productivity – it really is now the time to take action.
This will spark a real revolution in the workplace. One where individuals and teams are afforded the freedom to work where, and how, they like. Office zones providing meeting booths and team-working tables will become more prominent; while working areas within office cafes and breakout spaces will be re-centred to provide calming spaces to both relax and to work.
Is this the end of the office? Absolutely not – It’s in our nature to want to be around like-minded people; if anything is being proven right now, it’s quite the opposite. It could, however, be the end of the office as we currently know it to be – and that might not be such a bad thing.
Stay safe out there.