The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about our lives. When it first erupted in 2020, none of us knew what to do: workplaces were closed, planes were grounded, and life as we knew it was changed forever. The world of work was up in the air for some time: office workers were working from home, many of them for the first time, while others were put on permanent leave – or even lost their jobs entirely.
Although over a year has gone by and the pandemic is still with us, with vaccination programs being rolled out, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Offices are beginning to open up – but there’s no denying that things have changed for the average office worker.
In this post, we’ll explore five ways that offices will change since the pandemic!
The Number Of People In The Office At Once Will Decrease
If you have worked in an office based role before the pandemic, you will know that your workplace can be pretty cramped at the best of times. Office managers try to squeeze as many people as can comfortably fit into office spaces, to avoid renting a bigger space and increasing company expenditure. Sitting up-close-and-personal with your colleagues was pretty normal in a pre-COVID world.
However, this simply won’t be the case moving forward. All offices will need to revamp their spaces to accommodate fewer people in a larger square footage. This is simple practicality – if the pandemic resurfaces to the point where office workers will need to socially distance, then they can do so in a larger space. Companies might have to enforce a rotation for their workers so that they aren’t all in the office at once, thereby decreasing the risk of any coronavirus transmission.
Even after the pandemic is over, it is unlikely that offices will go back to full capacity. Many companies are even reporting that an emptier office environment makes for a more productive work day!
The Style And Layout Of Meetings Will Change
Meetings are an integral part of office life, and since the pandemic began, they have all operated via Zoom or another video chat platform. This has been fun for some, but in general, it has slowed down the process of meeting and discussing ideas between colleagues. There’s always somebody who doesn’t know how to share their screen, or who simply doesn’t understand that they need to mute themselves while others are talking!
Although meetings will be able to resume in person soon, that doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal. In fact, in person meetings will change for good after this year of video chat madness! Here are some ways in which the style and layout of meetings will change:
Open Space & Ventilation Will Become A Priority
When it comes to designing COVID-safe spaces, commercial property designers are already brainstorming ways to make this happen. We want to avoid total lockdown in the future, but in order for that to happen, there needs to be a revamp of how brand new commercial properties are designed in the future. Designing a modern office has taken an unexpected twist, but architects are up to the challenge!
The main priority for new office buildings will be simple: more ventilation and larger, more open spaces. Fresh air is very difficult to achieve in high rise buildings with air conditioning swirling around the place, so many designers are working on trying to keep fresh air pumped into office spaces at all times. In addition, open plan desks with at least two meters between workers will become the norm, even after the pandemic is over.
Hybrid Working Will Become The Norm
We have all heard the term “hybrid working” in the past year, but will it actually take effect? Studies are showing that the majority of workers would prefer to either work from home or do “a bit of both” – i.e the hybrid working model. This model involves a worker spending two or three days in the office, and the rest of the week working from home.
Why is hybrid working such an effective model? Firstly, it allows employers to manage the number of people in the office at one time. This saves companies from increasing their expenditure by having to rent larger spaces for the whole team to be in the office at once. By balancing certain employees at home and others at the office, the workspace can remain partially empty at all times.
Secondly, hybrid working appeals to workers because they get the best of both worlds. They are given the more social, outgoing side of work, (being in the office), and the more laid back, less stressful side of work, (working from home). Hybrid working is said to become the new normal faster than we would expect, with very few people going back into the office full time.
Cleaning Routines Will Be Permanently Increased
Finally, the cleaning regimes of commercial properties will be drastically overhauled in the future. While most commercial properties were cleaned nightly before the pandemic, the majority of office spaces will now have cleaning staff on site at all times.
Surfaces and touch-points, such as door handles, laptop keyboards, common areas like the kitchen or break room, desk surfaces and bathrooms will all be cleaned throughout the day to avoid the spread of any bacteria or viral particles. Not only will this help to curb the spread of a potentially deadly virus like COVID-19, but it will also aid employees’ efforts to stay generally healthier in the wake of a frightening pandemic.
Although regular cleaning is a very good thing, many companies fear the expense it will bring to their business. Having cleaning staff on hand 24/7 can eat into a company’s budget, especially for small businesses that take account of every small expenditure. The new normal is certainly more hygienic, but it could be perilous for small businesses who need to keep an eye on their outgoings.
Office life will never be the same, that’s for sure. Are you ready for the new normal to take hold?