At the start of the pandemic, we thought workplaces would the return to the way they once were in a matter of weeks or months.
As the pandemic rolled on however, it became apparent that the world of work had changed. Now, instead of looking back, we’re embracing the new and redefining our workplaces for 2022 and beyond.
No one could have predicted the last two years. When most of us packed up our desks and headed home to work in March 2020, we thought we’d be back in the blink of an eye. Even as the various lockdowns eased and we began tentatively returning to the office we were still waiting for ‘normal’ to return.
Fast forward to 2022 and it is clear things are not going to return to pre-pandemic life. In last two years, our workplace preferences and expectations have changed. There are elements of the ‘old’ we want to return – but we don’t simply want to return to the offices of before. Instead, we want to redefine our workplaces and embrace some of the positives we’ve discovered during the pandemic. Here, we explore some of the elements of the workplace that COVID-19 has changed for good.
COVID-19 placed a spotlight on office hygiene more than ever before. At the start of the pandemic, the rigorous cleaning schedules and sanitisation stations were introduced as temporary safety measures. Now, as we understand more about how germs are spread, these temporary solutions are being permanently embedded into office design.
Employers are looking at other hygiene solutions too. One measure that’s growing in popularity is the installation of touchless fixtures, such as sensors and voice activation. Many companies are also fitting better ventilation systems to reduce air shared across the office to help keep staff safe.
While many of us are itching to get back into the office, we can’t forget that for some it will be a daunting prospect. After two years of working alone, the thought of returning to a busy environment can be scary for several different reasons. To help employees to feel at ease many businesses are permanently adopting the ‘two-metre rule’ and optimising their space for social distancing. Alongside creating extra space, cleverly designed and placed screens also help staff to feel safe and secure.
For many people, the freedom to tailor their own environment during lockdown has had a positive effect on their wellbeing. Being able to change heat and lighting levels might seem like a small thing but it can really affect employee mood and productivity levels. With this in mind, many employers are now looking at how they can bring this personalisation into their workplace. This is a growing trend in workplace design and something we talk about in more detail in this blog post.
Not many of us had heard the term ‘hybrid working’ before the pandemic. Sure, the odd few of us might have worked from home every so often. But splitting our time between home and the office on a more frequent basis just didn’t seem feasible. COVID-19 has completely redefined how we feel about flexible working. In fact, 75% of employees in UK now say they’d like to adopt a hybrid working model.
The first port of call for many employers is to formalise temporary policies that were put in place at the start of the pandemic. If hybrid working is officially rolled out across the business, providing a budget for staff to improve their home office set up is essential. Office design will also need to change to accommodate this new way of working. Meeting rooms, for example, will be fitted with video conferencing to enable hybrid meetings. Offices will also contain different types of workspaces, such as ‘Zoom rooms’, chillout zones and collaboration areas, alongside more traditional desk areas.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly presented many workplace challenges, but it has also brought with it the opportunity to redefine your office for the new working world. If you’re looking to make a change in your workplace, get in touch. We’d love to help you reimagine your office for the future of working.