Outdated structures around how we work have been truly dismantled since Covid. As the pandemic brought enforced safety rules that altered our routines and behaviours, any dissatisfaction with ‘the old ways of working’ were vocalised more than ever before.
As the world gradually reopens and many workers return to the communal office, there will be higher expectations of the office space and how it’s run.
So what can we expect from the newly evolved, post-pandemic workplace?
Smaller, smarter offices. With many organisations realising that geographic flexibility among their employees is a viable, or even a preferable setup; there is less of a need for a large, central office. Many companies will downsize and cultivate a ‘drop in culture’ to reduce costs. Others may disperse, moving to smaller offices in regional locations without the restriction of a city hub.
These smaller offices will be levelled up, however. In a Xerox survey, 85 percent of SME owners said that they are more reliant than ever on communication technology, remote IT support and enhanced security since Covid. These business owners will now seek fully connected office spaces to facilitate this need, with integrated smart features to allow automated, eco-friendly and community-driven working.
Permanent safety precautions for Covid-19. Just as the retail and hospitality industries have introduced myriad Covid safety structures, the safety of office workers will become paramount to the post-pandemic workplace. Sign-in features, wash stations, maximum capacity measures and contactless tech will all become permanent fixtures. As for coming in when you’re sick? That will be a cultural habit of office jobs past.
A bigger focus on staff wellbeing and mental health. Covid has been a traumatic time, and the effects of isolation are sure to last. As many return to the office while others stay at home, there’s also the risk of feeling more detached from colleagues than in pre-Covid times - so our ideas about what constitutes company culture will shift.
Mental health and staff wellbeing will prove a strong focus in the future workplace; surely a celebration for everyone. Individual flexibility, open communication and regular wellbeing check-ins will be seen as essential, and encouraged in order to balance team happiness and productivity.
Technology will also go a long way in evoking a sense of belonging among teams, enabling new and innovative ways to share ideas, celebrate wins and socialise together.
The flexible workplace. In a global survey by Slack, 72% of knowledge workers voted to split their time between office and home from now on, meaning full-time office hours will largely be a thing of the past. The chance to ‘WFA - Work from Anywhere’ means team meetings could include employees based in the main office, at a local coffee shop, or in an Airbnb on the Scottish coast. Advanced tech will help facilitate this emerging business model, and enable a new era of video-conferencing, reliable cloud access and stress-free communication between a dispersed team.
A focus on sustainability. The Covid-19 emergency demonstrated the destructive power of natural forces and brought a renewed focus on sustainability. The future outlook is one of resourcefulness and conscious choices, and the evolved office will strive to be greener than ever to meet those goals.
Organisations could fully digitise and go paper-free, and use energy efficient devices more suited to flexible working. Means for energy monitoring, recycling and moving towards net neutrality will be highly desired in the new office setup, and commercial property managers and landlords will need to integrate green features if they are to attract business.
As the post-pandemic office becomes the norm, introducing a solid digital infrastructure will be your vehicle to staying ahead. ITEC, a Xerox BusinessSolutionsCompany offers innovative Managed Technology solutions for the future workplace.