Before the COVID-19 pandemic, companies were used to having employees commute to work every day and spending all day long within office premises. The coming of the pandemic toppled many age-old workplace institutions and norms as companies shifted to remote working. Businesses and employees had to adapt to new ways of working as the old norms vanished, ushering in a new age of novel technologies like Zoom.
Before the pandemic, only 12 percent of American workers were working remotely full-time. This figure is even higher than the six percent in the UK. Even with the vaccines’ distribution spurring some optimism of returning to normal business, experts have indicated that traditional office life and the pre-pandemic working station may no longer be attainable.
Flexible Working Solution
The working environment and culture, how we know it is changing every day, and many people are still figuring out the perfect set up. Remote working has seen workers set up serviced offices in their homes, while others share space with the rest of the family. Employees at major tech companies like Google and Twitter are already working from home as long as they wish, with an option of switching to remote working permanently.
In addition to protecting their employees, companies will have to rethink the office space and arrangement to maintain comfort and flexibility. Companies will also have to contend with some employees juggling between remote working and commuting to the office.
Wellbeing and Human-Centric Design
Another significant shift in the new normal will be creating office designs emphasizing employee safety and empowerment. The pandemic has shown the value of minding others’ health and wellbeing, and companies will be paying attention to this as they reset the office.
The post-pandemic office design will consider things like handwashing facilities, built-in social distancing, flow management, readily available PPEs, and hand sanitizer points. This will not only protect employees but will also boost employees’ confidence and alleviate anxieties.
The use of Technology
Office design will prioritize smart buildings that collect and share information on when and how to use different spaces. This is very important in the context of social distancing, contact tracing, and space rationalization.
Companies are installing touchless technologies and thermal imaging systems to safeguard employees from the transmission and allow easy movements around within the office premises. There are also desk booking apps that ensure only one person touches an individual desk each day.
Connectivity and Community
The new normal will see an upraise of design models that emphasize hospitality and leisure. There is a focus on amenities and communal experience to attract and retain the best talents. The pandemic highlighted the importance of interpersonal relationships and how interactions are essential both at work and in personal life.
Reassessing Company Values
The pandemic has forced companies to rethink and reassess their values and principles. The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic will cause companies to execute necessary internal shifts to adapt to the new normal.