The future of work: How will workspaces be affected?

The future of work as we know it has been dramatically impacted as a result of Covid-19.

Trends such as flexibility and remote working have been accelerated over the course of the pandemic as we’ve undergone a huge enforced ‘work from home experiment’.  Plus, with anxiety high around re-entering shared spaces and returning to our workplaces, Covid-19 will have affected the future of work indefinitely both in the short and long term.

So, what does the future look like for traditional offices and workspaces? How will a more flexible workforce utilise the space and how will design and technology trends adapt? 

As countries move out of lockdown and offices begin to reopen here are the trends that are emerging:

 

Safety first

Health & safety will be one of the biggest considerations when it comes to offices and commercial spaces. Tenants’ and employees’ main concerns around returning to the workplace will be if they are safe and that the risk of contracting Covid-19 has been mitigated. Vanessa Lee Butz, CEO at District Tech said: “Whatever happens next, workplace owners and managers will need to focus all attention on the health & safety of the people that will be using their spaces or there will be no confidence to come back.” Simple strategies implemented like more thorough cleaning schedules to ensure optimal hygiene levels to more high tech strategies such as health check-ins for building users via a mobile application should be considered by landlords as part of their re-entry plans.

Phone app of health check for the future of work

 

Downsizing 

Most office-based workers shifted to working from home full-time during the lockdown period as part of measures put in place by the government. Companies that have found that their employees work successfully and productively from home may decide to cut costs on their second largest expense – office space.

 

The end of open plan

We may see the end of open-plan offices due to health concerns and social distancing. Amol Sarva, CEO of office interior design firm Knotel said: “The broad stroke is that the open office is over, [but] there’s a bunch of different things that that means.” Pros and cons of the open-plan office have long been debated even before Covid-19, with the style gaining popularity in the early 20th century. Some feel that it increases collaboration, others find that there’s far too much distraction from fellow colleagues. 

Woman in front of laptop writing in notebook alone due to social distancing

Is it the end of open-plan offices as we know it? At the very least expect floor plans to be reconsidered to enable people to work at a safe distance and temporary partitions.

 

Sneeze guards and temporary partitions

Whether or not companies completely overhaul their office layouts, one thing is for certain – expect to see sneeze guards. Translucent plexiglass mounted to desks creating a barrier from others, guarding against sneezes and coughs. Whether or not this style will last in the long-term, it’s definitely something that we’ll need to adjust to in the short. Expect to see temporary partitions installed in other areas of the office to encourage social distancing and to reduce germs spreading.

 

Distributed offices

We could see a move to distributed offices instead of one large office in city centre locations. Distributed offices closer to areas where people live will reduce commute times and minimise large groups of people gathering whilst offering the ability to collaborate and work alongside fellow team members in smaller groups.

 

Hands-free

From building access to lift controls to hand-dryers and taps, expect to see workplaces upgrading to contactless features in a bid to minimise exposure to areas that could potentially be infected with coronavirus.

man using phone to scan into building to enter in futuristic alternative

 

Air quality

As Covid-19 can be transmitted by inhaling small droplets from coughs and sneezes there has been much discussion over air quality controls in commercial real estate. Implementing air quality features will help to boost confidence with occupants returning to the building, and help move towards a healthier building of the future. Air quality methods such as night flushing improve air quality by limiting the exposure to contaminated air and by reducing pollutants. Upgrading and maintaining HVAC systems will also be key to improving air quality in buildings.

 

District technologies launch new features for the future of work

District Tech has developed new features to help get companies back in the workplace and to boost confidence among tenants and employees.

The adoption of workplace technology can not only aid workplace re-entry but increases value for the future of work through engagement, communication and operational efficiency.

Vanessa Butz, District Tech CEO, said: “Landlords will need to boost confidence in their tenants and companies will need to communicate with their employees more than ever before. People will not want to return to their workplaces unless they feel safe, so increasing communication and adjusting workplace operations will be key to addressing these pain points. That’s exactly why we’ve developed a workplace re-entry solution that addresses both of these points to help companies return to their workplaces safely and with confidence.”

The new features help companies navigate the “new normal” which include health check-ins, occupancy monitoring and desk bookings. District has also created a free downloadable e-guide around utilising technology to aid workplace re-entry.

To find out more about District Tech get in touch or book a demo.

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