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Coronavirus may change work forever.
- Financial Times, May 2020
A great deal has been written about Covid-19 and its effect on business operations and workspaces. What is evident is that the corporate workplace landscape will never be the same again.
Work From Home has now obtained its own acronym - WFH - resulting in the likes of a large clothing retailer, American Giant, to capitalise on this opportunity and develop WFH pants. (These pants are designed to allow the user to seamlessly move from a home office environment to walking the dog - as an example.) As lockdown eases and people return to "Work From Work", there are functional changes to consider. Amongst others, these include:
Regulated distances between workers in open-plan offices
Scanning and sensor testing of staff members before arriving at work.
Hand sanitisers and hygiene protocols
Operational changes in occupancy and business operations
Access and circulation routes through the office
Changes in the use of meeting spaces
Face mask best practice
Physical building system upgrades and alterations to minimise potential virus spread.
CNBC is even reporting the rise of a new role or function within business: A Chief of Health and Wellbeing, who will monitor compliance with these new protocols.
Through all of this, and as the world of work continuously changes, it is clear that people still need somewhere to work from and the work place will matter now more than ever.
"This crisis has reinforced that work is inherently social...it has reminded the world that we are most successful when we work together. - Steelcase 2020
According to New York Times reports, there remains a strong sense of community in being attached to a specific space. While videoconferencing is increasingly important and central to daily business effectiveness, there is no denying that, overall, most of us are yearning to return to a specific environment, to a job, to colleagues, to a space, to a place of collaboration.
This then, raises the longer-term question beyond just the physical changes to workspaces. How will the psychology of the workplace shift? This is the realm of Workplace Strategy. During lockdown, many rediscovered the importance of work in and of itself. It is an activity that provides more than just a salary: for many, it offers purpose and meaning.
Workplace trends will continue to bring comforts of the home into the work environment. However, it has become increasingly apparent, even before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, that most people still want a distinction between the two. The blurred boundaries of WFH require careful balancing as, indefinitely, it is an unsustainable scenario.
At Internal Developers (ID), we have long understood that a healthy work environment is central to business productivity and efficiency - as well as people's camaraderie and collaboration. The internal environment is the largest determinant of overall business wellbeing. This pandemic has provided the ideal (and much needed) opportunity for us to re-strategise, re-design and re-think the workplace. Most importantly, the onus is on us to embrace the current Zeitgeist if we are to reshape the future of work itself.
What will the future of work look like?
Together with our internationally affiliated partners, Cushman & Wakefield | Broll, we have been exploring this pertinent question. The adoption of best practise standards and health led design is not new and the pandemic has highlighted a much-needed urgency of bringing this concept to the fore. Instead of asking a question of the future we need to focus what research is telling us now. If anything, key trends in office design such as workplace wellness and workplace strategy will become a non- negotiable for workplace design. It's all about setting the right stage and gathering relevant data in order to inform decision making on both a design and user level. This is where we can help you.
Creating a great workplace experience requires aligning space, culture, interaction and behaviour -Gensler US Survey 2019.
It is without doubt that workplace of the future will need to be considered on a holistic level and it will need to work harder to ensure wellness on both a user and regulatory level. This includes the people, operations, functions and objectives that constitute 'work': everything from the visible to the invisible.
The ID ambition is to provide a workplace that represents, supports, and amplifies its occupants' talents; efficiently sustains business operations; and allows flexibility of use. In addition to addressing the physical aspects of a workplace, we also need to consider the following:
How does taking a psychological approach to spatial design affect productivity?
How does the work environment influence and enhance corporate culture and camaraderie?
Research clearly indicates that creating an optimal workplace can have a remarkable impact on the success of the business. Yes, we need to consider the aesthetic, but also the science. Where you work shapes patterns of behaviour, habits, corporate culture, profit. When people are happy, an organisation succeeds.
Prior to Covid-19, the need for Workplace Strategy was required at a specific moment to facilitate a specific goal or business need: a response to either running out of space, having too much space, or wanting to introduce organisational change. Think of a move, merger, resizing, or refurbishment.
Post Covid-19, Workspace Strategy will become a vital tool and asset in rethinking and restrategising the workplace in order to cater for the drastic changes we have seen in the last couple of months. Inevitably work has changed, businesses have changed and people have changed.
It is imperative to think beyond the immediate need though, particularly now. It will pay off exponentially to implement a long-term strategic approach to workplace utilisation. A well thought-through solution will create a resilient environment that enables employees to achieve corporate objectives in surroundings that reinforce organisational values, and support their individual and collective needs.
The workplace is here to stay, it is up to us to ensure that it's worth staying in.
How we can help you?
Our service offering provides a holistic view on the workplace as a driver for organisational effectiveness. We partner up with our client's management team to assist in devising spatial strategies that energise people and drive innovation. Decisions are made via data, evidence, and research, not creative whim. The result is always a unique one.
As specialist consultants, we continually research global trends and academic theory specifically focused on improving collaboration, innovation, and optimisation in the workplace. The purpose is to increase the organisations' output, whilst retaining talent and coping with the complexities of a multigenerational, diverse workforce.
Ultimately, our aim is to serve as a strategic business partner in the execution of long-term, sustainable occupation strategies in alignment with your business objectives and goals.
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