Starting in the early days of the pandemic, there was speculation that we may have seen the end of offices as we once knew them. With people working from home, it was thought that companies might come to the conclusion that their offices were unnecessary – just a frivolous, added expense.
While the pandemic continues, and the world has changed in many ways, the disappearance of the American office has not actually come to pass. In fact, the value of in-person collaboration has become even more apparent as virtual meetings have lacked in meeting the needs of both employees and employers on a long-term basis.
That is not to say that the office of the future will look exactly the same, as businesses slowly transition back to in-person workplaces. Once people know that change is possible, it becomes necessary to evaluate and adopt the changes that work even while savoring the reclaimed joy of in-person coworkers. Here are a few of the changes that we may yet see.
Optimizing Office Time
Each company will need to determine the best ways to use in-person office time. Regaining personal connections and reestablishing company culture are going to be at the top of the list for many organizations.
Creative use of office time will include opportunities for casual socializing and collaborative team building. Many companies have learned that meetings can be streamlined, but also recognize that interaction before and after official business is an important part of building and maintaining a cohesive team.
Short-Term Office Rental
Companies large and small are rethinking what they need in terms of their office space in Boston and beyond. Open concept offices may not give employees enough privacy and distance from coworkers to feel safe and healthy.
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.
High overhead for unused space is not the answer. Companies in transition should consider short-term office rental. The advantages are clear: decreasing expenses while determining optimal office configuration.
People want to be back in the office. They need connections and company culture. What they don’t need is the same space they occupied before Coronavirus. Short-term office rental gives organizations the chance to reimagine their space. If they discover that 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. It’s a delicate, highly personal framework.
Spending long hours at the office pre-pandemic abruptly transitioned to trying to be productive at home. Trying to separate work from home life became much more difficult.
For some individuals, the act of going to the office and leaving at the end of the day creates a powerful separation between work and home. Without that boundary, they 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.
The post-pandemic office needs to be hyper-focused on the mental health and the overall well-being of every member of the organization. Expecting people to jump back in as if the past year didn’t happen is unrealistic. It also sets individuals and companies up for failures and setbacks.
Just as the world recognizes the need for flexibility in physical workspaces, it is also belatedly prioritizing mental and physical health as crucial components to a productive workforce.
Preparing for a return to the office is complicated and filled with potential pitfalls. Companies need to be flexible and responsive to their employees and mindful of what ideal office space looks like.