The office needs to incorporate various shared, versatile spaces where workers can freely circulate depending on what type of work they are doing, such as lone spaces, open-plan spaces, and landing spaces. If employees are sharing a workspace, maybe you could create a little spacing in-between or let employees who are sharing the space come and go in on different days first. Organizations should provide employees in shared workspaces with some sort of place, like a locker, to safely store limited amounts of work materials or personal items.
Employees should be given options for choosing where and when to work best, whether it is at home, at an office, or a coworking office close to where they live. What most open-plan scenarios argued above are flex designs, offering employees different environments in which to work, including spaces for quiet, and giving them the freedom to choose where they work, and when. That is why the variety of spaces within an office supporting those modes of work, especially collaboration, is here to stay.
Say helps to explain the growing prevalence of new ways to structure workspaces, like flex-work arrangements and hybrid offices, that seek to combine the advantages of collaborating in-person with working remotely or at home. The future of work will take the freedom and flexibility of working remotely and augment it, offering workers access to common spaces in which to collaborate, or just step outside of their homes, to concentrate. Instead of solely relying on remote work, or forcing employees into an office against their will, hybrid offices enable more flexible hours, cut commuting, and lower overhead costs.
Hybrid offices are perfect for startups that need to offer flexibility, tech companies that work primarily remotely, or growing companies that want to provide their employees with different options. Private office spaces, which function as hybrids between a traditional office and coworking spaces, provide solutions for businesses that cannot operate from home. The more cost-effective option for a single-premium or start-up, co-working spaces are shared lounges or offices that provide access to a local business community and freedom to choose where and when to work, but they sacrifice the privacy of a dedicated space.
There is an obvious higher risk to employees sharing workspaces, and coworking spaces are heavily affected. While there are a lot of benefits of co-working, some are having trouble justifying sharing spaces compared with the risks that they put themselves or others at harm.
Some may have always enjoyed the independence of working alone, while others feel deprived of the social interaction provided by the office. Employees used to structure office environments might struggle to adjust to a largely autonomous schedule, while those used to working in earshot of numerous colleagues might be alone in a remote setting. The loss of an office is not uniformly felt by freelance workers or managers, who must find ways to coordinate and motivate people now that they cannot just randomly drop by the desk.
After months of working separately, employees now say that the primary reason they want to return to an office is to hang out with others, socialize, and collaborate–things that simply are not possible on the remote. Many employees who are freed up from the long commutes and trips find more productive ways to use this time, they experience greater flexibility to balance their personal lives with professional ones, and they have decided that they would prefer working from home instead of an office. As much as some employees would like the return of face-to-face social interaction at the office, they are used to the flexibility afforded by working remotely – from fewer hours spent commuting, to more time spent with their families and pets.
The hardest problem companies are facing, I think, is managing how working from home means different things to different people. Communicating what people can expect to get done at the office is just as important as when companies need to schedule employees to come back.
Full meetings and routine work can take place since there is a regulated, kept-up-to-date list of who will be allowed to come in and out of the space. The offices of the future will be designed to accommodate people who are gathered in groups, as well as using a portion of desk space ad-hoc. Gathering in a workspace for socializing and collaboration will be a greater goal the new office will be able to accomplish.
In an office of the future, technology will be critical in making it possible for employees to get back into office buildings, and work safely, even before a vaccine is widely available. The tools and software that many companies have relied upon to allow for remote work while locked down will remain a major part of hybrid office operations.
Across industries, leaders will be using lessons from COVID-19 to reimagine the way work is done–and the roles offices need to play–in creative, courageous ways. Eclat, a leading player in the global coworking market, has tailored its strategy for COVID in several ways, in response to both the pandemic and its expected aftermath. Companies need to find ways to support both employees and customers, and as new information emerges daily, it is not surprising the co-working community is abuzz over whether COVID-19 will cause demise in shared office spaces.
For a business, setting up an alternate workspace, for instance, might just mean having a few workers with different shifts or commutes sharing desks and office space. If there is little room in the employee’s homes–for instance, if many employees live in smaller apartments–then AW initiatives calling on people to work from home might be unfeasible. Because it could serve telecommuters (and telecommuting is now becoming an employee benefit), the coronavirus effect on workplaces has dramatically increased demand for mixed-use office spaces.