Covid and remote working. Two subjects which have dominated our lives in 2020, but what effect are they having on how we think offices will look in the future?
The lengthy first lockdown showed that most of us could work efficiently from home – something a lot of firms have taken on board and is a policy they may continue with in the best interests of their business and employees.
Covid remains the great unknown and planning for the future is really difficult when we don’t even know at present how things will change and what guidelines and restrictions are likely to be in place day-to-day, never mind trying to plan any long-term strategy!
But plan we must and if people are to return to work then the office must reflect the world we now live in. If employees continue working remotely they must have the equipment and ‘office’ space to work safely and efficiently in the home environment.
We know firms have reduced the number of desks they need through having at least part of their workforce working permanently from home and have installed screening around the remaining desks and altered layouts to accommodate the safe return of other staff.
Some big employers, like Shropshire Council, for example, have informed office staff they will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Some employers in these circumstances have employees working on laptops and other mobile devices while others have been fully kitted out with home offices.
House extensions are seeing people include a home office as part of the plans or designating a specific space within their existing layout for the purpose.
Making the most of your office space
How best to fill available office space has always been a key factor and will continue to be so, with the right layout of paramount importance in meeting the needs of the business. A greater level of partitioning and spacing may be required along with screens and dividers between workstations.
There may generally be fewer staff in offices of the future but there are occupations which makes home working an unrealistic proposition and going to work will continue to play a major role in maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.
We may not know how long the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will last but we do know that the office landscape will have changed hugely when we come out the other side.