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RETURN TO COMPANY.

Returning to work. The office is more than just a workspace, it’s a community.

Casting our minds back to February before Covid-19 and the lockdown, we were all merrily going about our business. Monday to Friday, we juggled our families, hobbies, and interests until five struck and the weekend began. The luxury of having two days to do as we pleased never failed to nourish us before we headed back to our offices on Monday morning again.  

Now things have changed, for most of us working from home was a new thing to experience. Quite frankly at first it was novel and somewhat exciting, now that seems like many moons ago, the new way of working is losing its lustre. We now crave the company of our co workers beyond the weekly coffee and quiz Zooms where we get to see each other, laugh about hairstyles, and peoples interiors knick-knacks. There is something fundamentally missing, and its company in the true sense of the word. Four months since the lockdown and it does not look like we will be going back full scale for another couple of months, or in some cases at least until next year. This begs the question, what will the post Covid-19 office look like, and we pose to you not what it will look like but what it could look like?

Having now had enough experience of remote working teams, we can start to measure our efficiency and pain points and begin to think about what a work force needs in terms of an office. Most people are finding the isolation the most difficult adjustment to make. Although, most of us would agree that there are certain aspects of our previous working lives that we could live without. The 5-day commute for instance? We are reading more and more about the positive environmental impact that the global lockdown is having on our planet. Perhaps it is time to relook at how people work and if full attendance in the office is needed. Have half your employees work 2.5 office-based days, thus reducing the required desk space and cut commuting by 25%.

For some working from home is different and possibly even more difficult. For those of us who are parents, juggling young children along with online meetings can prove to be a difficult task. However, once schools are back up and running, our home can be a suitable space in which to focus on the professional functions, that make our companies tick. Whilst also providing the additional benefit of being there when the children get home from school. Win, win.

 

International travel? With the advantages of Microsoft Teams and other applications such a Zoom. For companies that work on a Global or European scale, both of these connective applications have been saving companies and clients’ money, driving projects at a faster pace and allowing more time to create the best of whatever it is we do.

Meeting time efficiency. A more prominent issue than others, meetings running over, dashing from one to another, a queue outside waiting for you to finish plus the temptation to get comfortable and finish off with a chat. We’ve noticed that meetings are far more efficient, especially once we’ve developed our etiquette for actually pressing the hang up button.

On the flip side of course is that there are lots of things we love about being in the office with our compatriots.

For a lot of us it will be a joy to go back to the office, we are strong believers that we do not need a continuous reminder of the fact we’ve all been through huge changes to our lives over the last four to five months. There is a need to be safe, but we don’t think there’s a need for hazardous tape to be plastered all over the office to outline walkways and areas that are no longer in use.

Design can transform this somewhat negative change into a positive change. We are all in a situation where our office space has to change or adapt to the new ‘way of working’. Good design allows this to become an opportunity. An opportunity to engage your employees can be by creating an inspiring workplace environment. There are of course key aspects that need to take place such as space planning to ensure social distancing can be adhered to. But what about the introduction of systems of sound blocking, and screening as external meeting increase to be held online. Biophilic principles where planting and nature take the place of the hard-walled approach, we are all used to. Cleaner ventilation systems, with reduction of doors, opening or creation of windows. Just a few things we think will play a key role is returning to our office space without sacrificing the employee experience. A workspace as we say, should reflect your business vision, value and strategy creating space that empowers employees to improve engagement thus improving your overall business performance. This is what we think returning to work could look like.

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