Covid-19 has offered up its fair share of challenges to the world, the way in which we carry out our work is but one example. We have swapped our offices for the kitchen table and now lockdown measures are beginning to ease (or is it evolve) businesses are faced with the task of ‘pandemic proofing’ their places of work. The office of national statistics shows that 46.6% of people worked from home due to coronavirus. Although some of us are eager to return to work to have a level of normality back in our lives a study by the GMB Trade Union showed that four out of five people are anxious about returning to work amidst the continuing pandemic.
The obvious top priority of any and every employer is to keep their employees safe and help stop the spread of Coronavirus. In modern times a more open-plan office is favoured over the retro low partitioned style of the 1960s. To maintain the two-meter social distancing could we see the return of this office design? At present, it seems most office furniture can be rearranged in such a way where employees can maintain the two-meter distance guidelines set out by the government. The office can thus live on but is it needed, well at least for the short term it seems.
As well as keeping employees safe and contributing to the containment of Covid-19 businesses must now come up with creative and innovative ways of maintaining good client relations. In the past it was common practice to host meetings over lunch or a few social drinks, unfortunately, due to guidelines this no longer possible. Companies are forced to think outside box to maintain these good relations. The adoption of video calls via apps like Zoom or Microsoft Teams have been crucial in the fight to stay connected with clients and colleagues, but it is not ideal and in the long term is not as helpful as traditional face to face meetings.
So where is it all going to get to? The simple answer is no one knows at the present but what does seem certain is life will not be as it once was, and everyone needs to adapt to prosper.
At Vantage we have identified four key factors that will shape the outlook:
1. Virus management – be it control measures or a vaccine, we need it to help.
2. Government intervention – guidance, stimulus, and protecting the country.
3. Corporate action – how businesses react to preserve their future.
4. Individual actions- Potentially the biggest factor, never forget the man on the street.
Thus, when we look at the above four factors and think of the office of the future it is as clear as mud. What does seem to be the message from talking with clients and our peers is we all need to be flexible.
Tradition needs to go out the window, offices need to serve a potentially new purpose be its location, layout, or number of company offices held. We will see less office space required by companies, maybe it will have to be larger to ensure social distancing, or will it be the opposite of all of these.
We will investigate and debate this further over coming weeks, if you have any comments, we would love to hear from you.
Next post to be “Workplaces Covid-19 and their purpose”