Tyler's Trending Tuesday - Week 6: Forming a New Workplace

Author: Tyler Cox

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WEEK SIX OF TRENDING TUESDAYS: FORMING A NEW WORKPLACE

We have pretty much seen it all over the past 100+ days of quarantine. And for the past six weeks I have broadened our weekly topics focusing on: what office openings might look like, how different industries have adapted, how virtual events work and tips to be productive at home. Now we have come back full circle; talking about the workplace. With offices re-opening, we are starting to get more facts and industry specific options on what a new workplace will begin to look like. Let’s take this week to dive into some of those discoveries!

THIS WEEK’S FINDINGS

OFFICE OR NO OFFICE? – PEOPLE WANT OPTIONS

AV and UC conferencing equipment/software has grown exponentially due to this quarantine, which has allowed for workforces to successfully work from home. Some who have never had a full video conference call before are now doing multiple calls a day and proving that with technology, we can adapt quickly. This will segway into the architecture of new office spaces.

Studies show that people are content with working from home but miss the human interaction. Cushman & Wakefield compiled a study that says, “nearly three quarters of workers globally now believe their employer should embrace some form of flexible or remote working.” With that longing for group hangouts and teamwork people want flexibility to choose working from home today or going into the office tomorrow. It will ultimately come down to the company to make that decision, but you want your employees to feel safe (and be productive) no matter where they are taking their conference calls. Paul Ferro of Form4 Architecture states it very well here:

“It is very likely that, even after the threat of Covid-19 has passed, working from home for a portion of the week will become commonplace while the office will be used more for in-person team brainstorming and collaboration and to maintain connection and culture, which are more difficult when done remotely.”

Unless everyone is using a smartboard at home that interacts with all the other members on the call, the “brainstorming and collaboration” sessions that Paul speaks of above are much easier to get done in person. We can’t deny that, and surveys show that people still want that.

WITH OPTIONS, WHAT WILL WORKSPACES LOOK LIKE?

“Initially, the designer will need to rethink what the office is about. We have spent a long time developing workplaces focused on bringing people together, sharing spaces and resources, and letting people move freely between a range of work settings, but these workplace values will have to be paused when we first go back to the office and a new way of thinking adopted whilst fulfilling that desire to get together in the culture of an organization.” – Helen Berresford, Head of Sheppard Robson’s interiors studio (Read more on this here)

Yes, we are shifting to new office buildouts for the now, but whatever companies decide it has to be created for short and long term. Woods Bagot, an architecture and planning company, put together four different office layouts that focus on short and long term, while still “encouraging collaboration and creativity during and after the coronavirus pandemic”. Check out the full picture models here and the four options below
  • Culture Club
    • Small groupings of sofas, coffee tables, chairs and café tables outfit almost the entire office.
  • In and Out
    • Relies on rotating teams and imagines just a percentage of the company in the office. Desks and private tables with barriers fill the space.
  • Community Nodes
    • These are more focused on satellite, community-based offices. Different locations for employees to work outside of their homes. Will include a central office and smaller offices that are closer to employees’ homes
  • Collectives
    • Features an open-plan office with clusters of places to work and take breaks. It most closely resembles offices and co-working spaces pre-coronavirus.
Woods Bagot is not the only one who feels that options are valuable. Cushman & Wakefield believe that future workplaces will no longer consist of one single office:

“People need a variety of places to interact: Personal connection and bonding are suffering, impacting connection to corporate culture and learning. Enabling people to choose where to work as they need, will enable them to both get their jobs done and build personal connections.”

Day to day business and small internal meetings can and most likely will continue to be done remotely, but the networking, social connections and building partnerships thrive in person. If everyone follows the proper guidelines of distancing while in person and cleaning rooms after being used, a hybrid model of working from home and office can be implemented seamlessly. The decision of where the employee works will come down to how the organization runs itself.

TAKEAWAYS TO KEEP IN MIND

Offices are re-opening and companies want to get their employees back, but before anything is put into place, they need to assess all aspects of what working in an office entails.
  • Are you a company that needs face to face meetings to succeed?
  • How much office space will you actually need? Do you resign a four-floor lease in your building or change the model and sign for just one floor?
  • Are your employees’ daily tasks more collaborative?
  • What are your expectations of your employees when they do work in the office?
  • Whatever space you work at, you’ll need cleaning supplies and specific guidelines.
  • Figure out what roles at your company are more “work from home” or “work at office”
  • Culture: this will be a big thing since we’ve been in the world that “office culture” is a deciding factor for people when they choose jobs/companies.
 
MORE ARTICLES TO DIVE INTO: