In the early months of the pandemic, as people became more comfortable working from home and with the various video conferencing applications in the market, there was speculation that this may be the end of office space demand as we know it. Employees appeared to be much happier and would be more productive working from home and companies were to eager embrace the savings to be had by eliminating a portion, if not all of their leased office space.
Neither of these notions actually came to pass and in the longer term view, the value of in-person collaboration has become even more apparent as virtual meetings failed to meet the needs of both employees and employers on a long-term basis. People need people for collaboration, socializing, and camaraderie while employers yearn to restore culture and competition with their companies and internal teams.
Flexibility will continue to be important for companies as they face unprecedented challenges working through the current business environment. Some employers may maintain limited work-at-home options, though most expect their employees to return to the office for a significant amount of time each week. As schools reopen this fall and childcare schedules are more certain, we feel confident that there will be a major return of employees to that work in the CBD.
Regaining personal connections and reestablishing company culture are going to be at the top of the list for many organizations and each company will determine their own specific needs. Creative use of office time will include opportunities for casual socializing and collaborative team building which disappeared in the past 18 months. Meetings can certainly be streamlined, but often it is the personal interaction before and after these events that are an equally important part of building and maintaining a cohesive team.
Companies large and small are reevaluating what they need in terms of office space. Open concept offices may not give employees enough privacy and distance from coworkers to feel safe and healthy, while large offices may be underused as hybrid work models are adopted. Employers will be carefully considering both how much office space they need and how it should be designed.
As it is a difficult time to know what will be successful, many should consider short-term office rental as they are determining optimal future office configurations. People want to be back in the office. They need connections and company culture, and short-term office rentals gives organizations the chance to reimagine their spaces and the flexibility that if one office concept doesn’t work, they can try something else until they find the right balance for their teams.
The world has learned that work-life balance means more than working less and spending more time with family. The routing of spending long hours at the office pre-pandemic abruptly transitioned to trying to find ways to be productive at home while creating a clear separation of the two. Trying to separate work from home life became much more difficult.
For some, the daily commute to and from the office was a powerful separation between work and home. Absent that boundary, many find that they are unable to make the transition easily and find themselves unable to put the stresses of work away.
For others, working at home has been a profoundly lonely experience. Interaction with coworkers and friends at the office could not be replaced by virtual interaction or email. Accordingly, the post-pandemic office needs to be hyper-focused on the mental health and the overall well-being of every member of the organization. This is especially important as the virus is still an ongoing concern. A major focus has been on financial and operational issues regarding future office space use. However, prioritizing mental and physical health of each employee should be viewed as an equally crucial component in every office space decision.
Preparing for a return to the office is complicated but it does not have to be so. We provide options that can help meet all of your needs for flexibility while alleviating your employees concerns about safety. With so many major things to worry about, the return to the office should not be one of them and we can help make that process simple and efficient.