Despite all the media hype about how great it is to work from home, people are ready to return to the office. A recent WKSpace study found that, on average, people begin to lose enthusiasm for working remotely after five weeks, particularly for the newest workers from Gen Z.
So, when your employees are ready to come back, how do you create a workspace that’s safe and inspires productivity? In the post COVID world, business leaders are being forced to make choices about where and how people will work – and now more than ever, it’s essential to make the right decision.
Here at Egyptian Workspace Partners, we strive to help our clients create workspaces that help them adapt to the changing circumstances and support what people need to feel safe and be productive at work.
In this article, we’ll help you understand why employees are ready to return to work and even provide you with five ways you can build a compelling and safe workplace in a post COVID world without transitioning to working from home full-time.
Why Do People Want to Return to the Workplace?
While some have found that working from home is a good fit for them, most people are over it. In the Gensler 2020 Work from Home Study, it showed that 88 to 90 percent of employees want to work in the office, either most of the time or all the time.
In specific, remote work disproportionately affects millennials and Gen Z workers, who feel the least accomplished and don’t understand how their work contributes to the company. In the same Gensler study, only 35 percent felt they were making a difference by working from home.
Working from home also hurts long-term productivity and decreases opportunities for networking and mentorship. In fact, professional development and coaching are why one-third of all workers want to return to the office.
5 Ways to Build a Compelling and Safe Workplace
1. Expand the Ecosystem of Places: More Choice, More Control
Everyone’s sense of what makes them feel safe changes over time. Whether your employees need to work from home, in the office or from satellite spaces, it’s important to provide them with a broad ecosystem of places to choose where and how they work.
By giving people more choices, they’ll have more control over their work experience and a better sense of safety. According to the Steelcase Global Report, employees who had more control over their experience at work were more satisfied with their workplace and more highly engaged.
In addition, organizations with a diversified workplace strategy are more likely to attract and retain talent since they’re able to meet the diverse needs of people and provide them with the tools they need to support all types of work.
2. Shift from Fixed to Fluid Work Environments
Unfortunately, no one knows what the future holds. Whether another wave of the virus hits or a natural disaster strikes, disruption is a given – and that’s why work environments designed with fixed architecture and furniture need to shift to become more fluid.
Organizations need fluid spaces that adjust easily and quickly to support the social distancing requirements of today. They also need spaces that allow individuals and teams to adapt based on the type of work they need to do and the level of privacy they need to do it.
3. Focus on "Me Within We"
Prior to the pandemic, work was becoming more team-based and people struggled with open floor plans that emphasized group work without considering how they would concentrate or focus. Now, organizations need to provide individuals and teams with tailored spaces for how they need to work.
To make up for all the collaborative work they’ve missed out on, people will need to be able to quickly shift between working alone and working with others. They’ll also need more places to focus, refresh, find solitude and feel safe at work.
Video calls will also become more frequent since distributed work isn’t going anywhere. Organizations will need to be able to provide more private spaces, so employees in the office can take video calls with those working from home without disrupting their coworkers.
4. Make Every Collaboration Space High Performing
People need a variety of places to interact. Before the crisis sent everyone home, open spaces with a laidback vibe and enclosed conference rooms were popular. While these spaces may have been equipped with whiteboards and technology, they didn’t encourage creative thinking.
From now on, collaboration spaces need to be inspiring and high performing. Employees need to be able to connect and bond with their colleagues, which can positively impact how connected they are to the company culture.
Both open and enclosed spaces will need to support a wide range of postures, provide easy access to power and collaborative technology and control privacy levels, so employees feel more relaxed and comfortable as they work.
5. Merge the Digital and Physical
In the post COVID world, the workplace is no longer a building or a single destination. It’s an ecosystem of digital and physical spaces that provide flexibility and support convenience, functionality and wellbeing for a more inclusive working experience.
As some employees return to the office and others continue to work remotely, organizations will need to consolidate the digital and physical. To do this, they can start by incorporating video-based collaboration devices and connected technology to promote a touchless workplace.
Furthermore, as organizations work to figure out when changes need to be made, they can also use real-time occupancy data to understand what spaces are being used, what spaces aren’t being used and what their employees need to be highly engaged and productive at work.
How Can You build a compelling and Safe Workplace?
So, how exactly do you achieve a compelling and safe workplace for your employees without forcing them to work remotely?
The reality is, working from home isn’t possible for everyone. Although it may work for some people, others struggle with productivity since distractions at home can make it hard to focus. It can also be harder to build relationships with or collaborate with coworkers through virtual meetings.
The workplace is essential to driving growth, building organizational culture and fueling innovation that drives the global economy. It should also accommodate employees, what they’re looking for and what they need to be engaged and productive.
In today’s reimagined workplace, employees need an ecosystem of spaces that support they work they do every day – places where they can collaborate, focus, learn, socialize and rejuvenate. These ecosystems include the workplace, working from home and potential satellite places.
By working with your office furniture provider to create a workspace that supports a positive and safe experience for your employees, you can bring them back to the office and achieve a work environment that allows you to be successful in the post COVID world.
Ready to Take the Next Steps?
Want to learn more about how you can build a compelling and safe workplace? If you’re planning your employees’ return to work and need help reconfiguring your workspace, you should engage your office furniture provider as early as possible.
As industry experts with years of experience, your partners at Egyptian make the process as easy as possible. We’ll take the time to understand what your employees need to be successful and provide you with the best solutions within your budget.
To learn more about Egyptian and our approach to interior furnishings, connect with a Workspace Partner today!