What a change the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought in little more than a year. The virus has impacted life in a multitude of ways, including how we socialize and work. Restrictions and lockdowns have kept us at home, including many employees who now work remotely.
Thankfully, collaborative office solutions have kept the projects flowing, allowing team members to collaborate, engage, and manage expectations and workflows. It has been an experiment in keeping the office together, while working from different locales.
Let’s take some time to review how far we have come over the course of that year, and where we are likely heading with the help of collaborative office solutions. But before that, take a trip down memory lane back to pre-COVID times and remember what an office environment used to feel and look like.
- Before the pandemic hit, many offices and workplaces were fully emerged in a transition from the era of cubicles that largely kept employees apart, working in silos. That meant more open spaces and naturalized environments, including developments like indoors waterfalls and a variety of plants.
- From lunchrooms and cafeterias to meeting rooms, employees would work and socialize together, engaging in social banter and work-related discussions. It was all geared towards employee wellbeing and nurturing collaboration, creativity, engagement, and productivity.
- Those goals still exist, and while we aren’t going back to the old cubicle days, we are finding new ways to keep employees safe from infection, and remaining productive.
Employees Returning to the Office Find it a Lot Less Crowded These Days
COVID is teaching us how to succeed in a new hybrid remote/office reality. When employees began returning to the workplace, they found a smaller group of peers with others working remotely from home. Measures in place at the office included density, geometry, and division controls designed to minimize contact and keep the virus at bay, while a range of technologies and other measures connected teams at home and the office, keeping the doors open to the goals of collaboration, engagement, employee wellbeing, and productivity. They included:
- Audio visual resources: Teams and individuals, whether they are working from home or the office, are connecting virtually using collaborative office solutions such as video conferencing, scheduling, messaging, wireless presentation tools, and touchless technology.
- Employee wellbeing: From ergonomically designed chairs and desks, to protocols structured to deal with feelings of isolation and separation, especially in the home environment, employers have programs to keep employees connected socially and professionally.
Collaborative Office Solutions Benefit Employers and Employees
The shift to more of a hybrid home/office environment seems to be one that will remain even when the pandemic ends, as there are benefits for employees and employers. For employees, it cuts down on commuting costs and time, and for employers, there are cost-savings from reduced space requirements.
Employers, however, will need to determine which roles are best suited for the office or remote environment. Workers whose presence is physically required to maintain operations, like maintenance staff and decision-makers/leaders, will likely remain office-based, while others who can do the job remotely, may continue to do so.
It’s an interesting journey, from yesterday to today and tomorrow. You don’t have to navigate it alone. Contact the experts at POI today for assistance in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.