With vaccines in full run and economies reopening, social restrictions are easing. This means that we’re almost at the end of the coronavirus pandemic, and we will see a glimpse of how the world will look like. In particular, we are curious about how we’re going to get back to our offices. Should we redesign? Is the layout going to be the same? Should we go with a hybrid setup of office work and work-from-home option? Where do you see yourself and how productive do you think you can become in this new world?
It might come as a surprise to you that 94% of workers still want a physical hub for an office. Sure, they work productively at home, too. There’s also the prospect of doing things in your own sweet time unless the deadline is strict. But for many workers especially in the third-world and underdeveloped countries, working in an office is a reprieve from the packed house they usually come home to. Not everyone has the luxury of having a home office. Even a tiny corner in the kitchen will be hard to come by in third-world countries.
But here’s the thing: companies don’t also have the luxury of leasing more office space. So, if you’re thinking that you’re going back to a more spacious office, forget about it. Somehow, you all have to be creative in the design and layout of the new-normal office.
Areas Should Be Easy to Sanitize
If there’s one thing you have to remember about the new office, it’s that every area should be easy to sanitize. That includes most of all the flooring because this is where a lot of germs, dirt, dust, and grime collect. Simply sweeping and washing the floor is not enough. It needs the right flooring materials that can be sanitized by toxin- and virus-removing mixes. The desks should be made with materials that are easy to sanitize, too. The same goes for cabinets, drawers, door handles, etc. An industrial theme might be the best office design in a post-pandemic world because it uses materials—wood, concrete, and metal—that are easy to maintain.
Going to the Office Only for Collaboration
Do you know what a clubhouse is? It’s an area where the community goes for events and activities. Then, they go back to their homes to live their own lives. A clubhouse is a perfect definition of a workplace where people go for collaboration and teamwork. They will only “report for work” when there are meetings and brainstorming sessions. Otherwise, they do the bulk of their duties at home where most employees have now set up an office in the corner of the kitchen or living room.
Moving Between Rooms and Desks
Activity-based work setups can also be part of the new normal. This means that workers can move from one desk to another, or from one room to another. There is no specific desk or cubicle intended for the use of one employee. They can also work outside—on decks, lounges, cafes, co-working spaces, etc. This will allow companies to shrink their offices. If they have 10 employees, they may only need space for seven to eight since most of them will work outside the office.
Establishing Smaller Satellite Offices
Workers don’t want to travel to cities and central business districts anymore. They want to stay in their suburbs because they feel safer there. The statistics will tell you this is true. There are fewer virus transmissions in the suburbs because it is also less dense than cities. Companies are starting to look into the idea of establishing smaller satellite offices in provinces and suburbs than have one big central office in the city.
Employees can report to the central office if the need arises but for the most part, they can stay in the satellite offices. This saves them from having to travel to the business district while also providing the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Although this is similar to fully virtual office operations, seeing colleagues in person is still a morale- and productivity booster.
These are not necessarily new. Most of these office setups have been present for decades. Yet, there is a need to highlight the benefits of each of these systems so organizations can choose what’s best for their employees. The post-pandemic world is an entirely new environment. No one has been there, and no one can 100% predict what people can expect. It is up to each one to find a silver lining and make that work.