Over the past year, the majority of office-based workers got to participate in the largest work from home experiment due to COVID-19. During this time, we’ve learned a lot. We better understand the need for flexibility in the workplace. We learned new technologies that allow us to better support remote work and long-distance business relations. Most importantly, we understand that regardless of remote capabilities, people still have the desire and necessity to come together in a common workplace.
One thing is certain, the physical office is not going away, but it is quickly adapting. Our workplace brings people together. Here we share ideas, collaborate as a team, and celebrate our organization’s culture, mission and values. The office is a place that engages our employees and empowers them to do their best work. It motivates the team, and it allows you to serve your clients to the best of your ability. Yes, the workplace is changing, but it still plays a vital role in supporting your team and bringing staff together.
With the realization that remote work is not only doable but often productive, most organizations are adopting office policy that supports both in person and remote work. For some, this may mean that staff members are in the office three days a week and working from home the other two days. It’s clear that the future of work is a blended environment.
Over the past year, we have noticed that remote employees are most successful when focusing on individual work tasks. However, when it comes to collaborative team efforts, the office is more equipped to support these functions. Offices are also adapting to ensure that there are functional and comfortable focus spaces, similar to home, for when heads down work is needed. Many organizations are finding that a healthy mix of both in-office and mobile work have led to increased employee engagement, more focus and increased satisfaction with worklife balance.
With an increased number of agile workers, we are seeing the office move from primarily owned space with individual assigned workstations to a variety of shared spaces that can be utilized as needed. This means employees may choose to do their heads down focus work at home and come into the office for more collaborative group efforts or meetings. This reduces the need for expansive rows of workstations and increases the need for flexible space that supports agile staff and group work. These spaces may include open and closed meeting space, alcoves than support individual or small group work and numerous locations that support connectivity and the use of technology.
We’ve learned that dual purpose spaces are key. As the workplace continues to evolve, it’s important that space remains flexible and can support various functions in the office. This increased flexibility gives employees the ability to choose how they work, when they work.
With an increased awareness on health and wellbeing, we’ve seen an increased focus on healthy buildings. As humans, we spend most of our day indoors and the spaces we occupy play a large role in our overall health. Many organizations are investing in advanced building systems that help protect their staff and building occupants from viruses and other airborne pathogens. Efforts made towards improving indoor air quality include upgraded air filtration, humidity and moisture control, the use of ultraviolet light to reduce mold and bacteria growth and circulating more fresh air through the building.
Other areas of focus include developing a cleaning protocol for high touch surfaces and selecting clean building materials that support better health in the built environment. Additionally, organizations are prioritizing mental health through amenities like outdoor walk areas, green roofs
and wellness rooms.
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