With vaccinations well underway, office-based working has become a reality once more. But in the past year, how we work has changed dramatically, and so has what we’ve come to expect from our workplaces. And business owners must adapt accordingly. Whether you’re downsizing to meet the needs of a hybrid or reduced workforce, or you’re updating an existing space in line with new social distancing and flexible work norms, here’s what your post-Covid office space needs.
Flexible Spaces That Work With You
A year spent working from home has recalibrated how people think about their days, their interactions, and how they progress through various tasks and projects. Post-Covid office spaces should think beyond assigned cubicles or desks, taking their cues from collaborative coworking spaces that allow workers to seamlessly drop in and step out on an as-needed basis. Employees want the flexibility to be at their desk when they need to be and work remotely when other responsibilities beckon. Businesses may want to rethink and resize their office footprint accordingly.
In addition to considering what employees need from their working day, employers should consider how their workers’ approach to day-to-day tasks has changed. If brainstorming sessions and meetings tend to happen online or externally, the spaces once reserved for these can be reimagined to better suit employees’ new ways of working. A virtual video conferencing room may replace a board room, and collaborative spaces may feature multiple pods or sub-spaces that allow for socially distanced small-group working.
- Hot desks and multiple seating options
- Flexible meeting rooms and spaces
- Easily configurable desks and partitions
- Ample outlets and building-wide wifi
- Spaces for virtual video conferences
- Socially distanced desks and collaboration spaces
Workplaces have been moving towards wellness-focused design for some time, and the pandemic has highlighted the need for design that holistically supports workers’ health and wellbeing. WELL-focused office design uses thoughtful, intentional design to bring nature into the workplace, prioritize “healthy” building initiatives, and celebrate work-life balance. By considering and catering to workers’ multifaceted needs, these design interventions promote improved health, engagement, and performance outcomes.
WELL-friendly designs are easy to navigate, integrate natural light and greenery, encourage “me-time” and time out, foster opportunities for community-building, and incorporate health-minded and environmentally-friendly technology such as water stations, touchless buttons, and green energy. The goal is to simplify the working environment, reconnect humans with themselves and nature, and provide a safe and comfortable place to be creative and productive – all of which are key concerns in a post-COVID world.
- Natural light and the incorporation of greenery
- The use of natural materials and decor
- Incorporating spaces to rest and retreat
- Warm and comfortable color palettes
- Health-minded technology and initiatives
Convenience and Proximity
The average American used to spend over 9 full calendar days commuting to work. Working from home has returned those 225 hours to workers’ lives, and few long to return to those long commutes. When considering new or updated office space, ease of access is vital. Ensure a proposed space is close to workers’ homes, is easily accessible via car or transit, and that there’s ample parking or bike storage on-site. Having high-value amenities such as coffee, dining, gyms, and retail on-site or nearby is also critical, as turning a workplace into a “one-stop-shop” reduces time spent running errands and frees up people’s daily schedules along with their mental energy.
If a workplace is not easily accessible, consider encouraging hybrid work schedules that allow employees to work from home as needed, or even a four-day workweek.
- Proximity to major roads and transit hubs
- On-site parking and bike storage
- On-site and nearby amenities
- Hybrid and flexible work schedules
Talk to Us About Returning to the Office
The long-awaited transition back to in-office working will require new ways of thinking about how, where, and why we work. While the long-term impact of a year of at-home working remains to be seen, one thing that’s certain is that the old ways of working are long gone. Employees returning to the office will have new expectations regarding convenience, flexibility, safety, and technology – and employers should either be thinking about how their workspaces meet these needs.
At StellaPop, we’re tapped into the needs and interests of both workers and employers. We are happy to lend our expertise to consult with you on strategically designing a space that promotes engagement, wellbeing, and productivity. For an expert consultation on building a workplace fit for the demands of 2021, get in touch!