Industry Thoughts

The Future of Office Spaces: Has the Pandemic Put an End to the Office? 

By wizu | 22 December 2020

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge shift in businesses and employees making the move to remote working situations. In most cases, this has meant that many employees have been working from home, while business processes have been moved to the cloud to support remote working. This has created a major transition in the way businesses operate.

As the pandemic goes forward, will it mean the end of the office all together? We don’t believe so. Instead, businesses will need to become more creative in how and when people come together to work. This especially true as the pandemic works itself through, with waves of lockdowns and restrictions, then the transition to reopening, and possibly into lockdown again. With all the unknowns that come along with the pandemic, businesses must find a more flexible business model for their employees and operations. 

A Challenging Time for Businesses

It’s a fact that businesses must adapt to these changes. However, each of us still needs to interact with others. To this end, many businesses are finding they may benefit by adopting more flexible work arrangements going forward, even past the pandemic. 

Office Spaces will Change

Recent decades have seen the traditional office out the door, with new office arrangements becoming more popular. These changes include: 

In the past, the traditional office seemed the way of the future, cubicles, and all. Fortunately, these have long since gone by the wayside, making room for more innovative office layouts and settings. At the same time, the pandemic continues to make it necessary for businesses to adopt to quickly changing circumstances. 

While it’s true that some employees may continue to work remotely, there are others who will want to return to the office to get their work done. It’s a fact many tasks are simply and more easily done directly in the office, rather than through remote work. 

The reality is that office space will need to adapt to the fact that remote working and full-time office work will co-exist. This will mean a company’s vision of the office will need to change with the times. 

It could be that offices will be more like small campuses that resemble a coffee shop that’s equipped with meeting rooms and event spaces. Such an arrangement would make it easier for people to come in to work when necessary and remain remote the rest of the time. On the other hand, for employees who need or want to be onsite most of the time, they’ll have a much more flexible office arrangement than in the past. This type of new office will be a more comfortable, productive place to work due to the amount of flexibility it brings. 

The new office will not be focused on filling an open plan office with the largest possible number of desks. Instead, the quality of the space(s) will improve, which also brings improve in employee wellbeing. Plus, the new arrangements will provide a more collaborative workspace, while also providing for those who need more privacy to focus. The outcome may be a flexible space that’s more casual, yet more productive overall.

Reimagining Workspace Solutions

Due to the changes wrought by the pandemic, the next step is challenging the current beliefs about offices and what changes need to be considered. Along with that, it’s necessary to consider the need and use of office space overall. 

These points will vary depending on industry, and on the unique needs for each business. Each company will need to find the way forward that is best for them. Here are some considerations that will need to be reviewed as far as the role and adaptation of office spaces: 

Business processes may need to be reconstructed: the pandemic has already brought many changes to business processes and operations. However, as the role of the office continues to evolve, it will be necessary to adapt, rather than just moving the ball forward with the current system in place. This may no longer work, so a new system must be considered and developed. 

Values, culture and interactions: this is another area that has been drastically changed by the pandemic, especially with the growth of working remotely. In the long-term, companies will need to review if there’s a need to gather and interact in order for the business to thrive. This comes down to a not only a consideration of how the business is managed, but what values and culture keep everyone in the company working together for a common goal. What interactions are needed, for instance, when bringing on new employees? Can they be taught remotely, or will they need to be trained in person, and then followed up through online mentorship? This is only one area of consideration. 

Fully or hybrid remote work arrangements: next, companies will need to assess whether it will be possible to continue the hybrid remote business model, or whether a mix of fully remote/hybrid remote will be a better fit. Maybe only one day a week at the office will be necessary for most employees. In this case, a large office space may no longer be necessary. In fact, a serviced office, coworking spaces, and more might be a better option. If so, then a business could even save money on their operating expenses. 

We believe the office will continue to live on in some form after the pandemic is past. There are many considerations that businesses will need to review and then make the best choices for their specific companies on whether or not a traditional office is still a viable option. In that event, Wizu will be ready to step in with flexible office spaces that work for a wide range of businesses. Our goal is to keep things easy with our zero-hassle promise. We’re here for us when you’re ready for alternative office solutions.

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