An office is just not a place of work – it is a second home. People usually spend most of their day in the office, interacting with colleagues and peers. The COVID-19 pandemic flipped what “normal” life looked like to us overnight. Nothing remained the same; work from home was the “new thing”. With things slowly returning to normal, renting an office space is once again becoming popular.
That said, hasn’t it looked like a win-win situation? The employees working in the comfort of their own home while the companies they work for were saving on significant overhead expenses while still getting work done. Because of the benefits both the parties were getting, the transition from office to work-from-home went remarkably smooth for most companies.
Even though numerous companies are considering going forward with this work model, most of them are also focusing on how to implement a successful hybrid working model as life is trying to come back to normal after the vaccination process.
The Argument That WFH Isn’t Sustainable
Yes, we all know that there are many advantages to this model, like spending more time with family, less time wasted in commute, the ease of working from the house, less interruptions and fewer grapevines.
Even though it sounds hard to believe, work from home may not be a practical long-term solution. After the “honeymoon” period is over, the reality is this is not going to last for long. It is already becoming impractical to work from home as the fine line between work and home quickly disappears. It’s true that the productivity of employees often increases in the work from home model, but there is no concept of home left; the home becomes an office and you stay at work longer than you normally would. This is seriously impacting employee’s mental health. So much so that companies like Bumble, the dating app, temporarily closed all of its offices to combat workplace stress.
Traditional and Remote Office Environment
In the long run, employees will want to join companies that offer something close to the traditional working environment (pre-pandemic), of course with a degree of flexibility. This will allow them to balance their work and home lives, something that the ‘compulsory’ work-from-home environment has snatched from them.
Employees are just not machines who sit on the laptop all day long and work. Traditionally, there was socialising, you could get together with a co-worker and talk about stuff over a cup of tea.
So, what is the solution to all this? The pandemic is not easing overnight and it does not seem corporations are going to open up like before. So, how do we get people to want to return to their office, even for part of the week?
It is a simple concept in which people or companies design offices in such a way as to boost productivity by making the environment favourable for the purpose of the employees; a people-focused approach. These offices are designed smartly – using occupational psychology – to encourage people to work there.
How to Design Offices to Make People Want to Work From Them?
If you don’t really care about this, then you could always find a cheap office space to rent; hopefully your employees will still want to work for you! Otherwise, here are a few simple tips and tricks to help you to get the fundamentals of better office design: –
1. Safety first
In the middle of the pandemic, the priority for anyone is going to be safe. Offices need to be designed in such a way as to avoid the spread of pathogens through the air; proper ventilation and sanitation are essential while designing an office space nowadays.
2. Focus on Productivity
Another very important thing is to design an office that will boost productivity. Don’t go for a cramped-up office space to rent and small meeting rooms. When an employee can’t work in peace or have the spatial needs fulfilled, he/she can’t be productive. To ensure productivity is increased, you need to make sure all the tools and resources are at their disposal and they have enough activity-based workplace settings at their disposal.
3. Community Interaction
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest thing people missed about office/school/colleges/gym etc. is mere “human interaction”. Design offices in such a way that social interaction is made possible without being in each other’s face. Before the pandemic, high density became the norm, despite people’s complaints. Now, things are changing and if the environment doesn’t facilitate comfort, social distance and interaction, they’ll not want to stay.
Have you ever seen a building being flexible? Sounds impossible, right? Well, this is not the case. A ‘flexible building’ obviously does not mean the building moves around; it means you can shake-up the work environment to suit different people. You don’t need to be Google to include modular furniture and meeting room solutions that allows the physical space to contract and expand as per demand.
It will obviously take time for life to return to normal, and although there an obvious uptake in working from home, if your office environment is attractive to support wellbeing, social interactions and work activities, there will still be a great demand to work from the office no matter how many days a week. The trick, of course, is to balance reducing office costs and getting it perfect for your own team.
Canvus finds, designs and manages the best workspaces.