Pre-pandemic, we worked from the office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Some of us got up early to get in some exercise, many of us commuted to work (often on over-crowded trains), and when we finally arrived at the office, we all sat at our assigned desks.
But, in just over one year, this way of working has become outdated. Some companies have gone fully remote, a few are hanging onto the archaic, 5-days-in-office lifestyle, but most companies (and especially those in tech) are transitioning to hybrid working. Employees will be expected to work from the office 2-3 days/week, and the rest of the time they’ll work from their home office, a café, their backyard, or even their couch.
What some companies are failing to recognize, however, is that their old workplaces will not support their new hybrid work models. Moving forward, most heads-down work will be done remotely, and employees will come into the office for collaboration, learning, and socializing. This means that our spaces must be altered to better support these new types of activities.
Throughout the pandemic, the coDesign team has interviewed 150+ experts in Workplace, People Ops, Facilities, and HR roles. Using what we’ve learned from these conversations, we’ve reimagined what the post-COVID office can and should look like.
Here’s what we’ve determined. The post-COVID workplace should…
1. …support gathering.
Our new workplaces should support both team and cross-departmental collaboration. They should contain tables for groups of all sizes to gather, whiteboards and butcher paper for brainstorming, and technology that allows remote employees to fully participate in group discussions (rather than be sidelined). Additionally, our new workspaces should contain event space for all-hands meetings, after-work drinks, and educational workshops.
2. …promote company culture.
Post-COVID (with less time being spent in the office), it’s imperative that companies make the in-office time count. Your post-COVID workplace should exude your brand, remind employees of where they work, the values of the company, and why they first applied to work there. Branding a space can be done with color and logos (of course), but it can also be done with framed art, murals, and so much more. Does your company preach transparency? Then do away with closed offices. Are you a company of nature lovers? Then add greenery and take advantage of that patio space. The opportunity is limitless!
3. …be flexible.
No one saw COVID coming, and one thing this crazy experience has taught us is that we should always be ready to change and adapt. Your post-COVID workplace should be malleable, as the space that you’ll need next year, might be quite different from the one you’ll need five years down the line. Think furniture on wheels, sliding walls that can be opened and closed with ease, and private offices that double as small meeting rooms when the office “owner” isn’t present.
4. …be safe.
Health and safety are currently at the forefront of our minds, and even when COVID has passed, worry about germ transfer will persist. Companies should adopt touchless features (i.e., doors). They should also increase the presence of hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations.
While COVID has presented companies with so many challenges, it has also presented them with an opportunity to make positive changes.
What is your company doing to prepare for your return-to-office and your new way of working? Not sure? Let us help!