When asked why they want to return to the workplace, employees rank socialization near the top of the list. They miss the face-to-face engagement and collaboration that comes with being in an office environment.
As we continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19, one thing that is becoming clear is that the work environment post-pandemic will be a hybrid system of remote/office work based on business decisions as to who can and should work from home, and who needs to come back to the office.
Why We Love the Office, and How it Needs to Change
Steelcase’s report discusses the reasons employees want to return to the office, and asks if the safety measures in place will limit the options for socialization and collaboration that many employees so clearly want.
“It’s clear that social connection builds trust and strong bonds. But our ability to adapt to working remotely is reliant upon the relationships built over time through the spontaneous interactions and relaxed conversations that happen in person – in a conducive environment. The informal, shared spaces – or ancillary spaces – where we socialized, collaborated, focused and rejuvenated, enhanced our work experience before COVID-19 sent us all home,” says the report.
“But when we return, will these spaces that we love go away because of safety concerns? Or will they change?”
The answer to that is obvious: they will need to change, and solutions such as audio visual technology and office furniture will facilitate that process. Helping employees socialize and collaborate will be the challenge for the designers of the post-COVID office. Let’s take a look at what that means as we balance the need for safety and engagement.
Key Challenge Will be Bridging Safety Measures With the Desire to Socialize
- Working in close quarters: People will be working in close proximity, and the new office environment will need to ensure employees feel safe and secure while still being able to engage and socialize.
- Identify where, when, and how your spaces are being used through Steelcase Workplace Advisor to predict future efficiencies.
- Create shared spaces outdoors makes the workspace naturally safer due to the air flow. Employers can provide tools that will allow employees to collaborate or socialize outdoors.
- Add more modular seating, so that the space can be easily modified when required.
- Equip shared spaces with collaboration tools to improve performance and safety. These tools can include: Steelcase Roam, Steelcase Flex Mobile Power.
- Integrate touchless technology to help people find and reserve rooms, wirelessly share content, and collaborate through voice-activation.
- Comfort and wellness: Employers will want to provide office furniture that aids the goals of physical and mental wellbeing.
- Height-adjustable desks allow employees to easily change their worksurface as they shift postures from sitting to standing.
- Ergonomic chairs that support your body as you move, helps reduce any strains or pressure on your body, and improves your wellbeing.
- Aesthetics: The look and feel of an office will set the tone for the brand and culture of an organization.
- Look for furniture and fabrics that will support the physical distancing and cleaning protocols required to maintain a safe workspace.
The key challenge for creating the new office environment will be merging the existing safety measures with strategies to keep the best of the office experience: socialization, collaboration, and creativity—all geared towards productivity. Audio visual technology and the right office furniture will be required.
Contact POI for Audio Visual Technology & Office Space Solutions
Contact the experts at POI today for advice and assistance on how to set up your office for success in a post-COVID world.