THE POST COVID OFFICE ENVIRONMENT
We all know that the pandemic changed the way we work with working from home and hybrid working becoming common place.
According to BBC News the most popular office days are Tuesday to Thursday with UK workers only going into the office an average of 1.5 days a week, only 13% of those go in on a Friday.
Interestingly, this is backed up by data showing a reduced footfall in cities and increased footfall in smaller towns and seaside resorts on the days that bridge the weekend. Why? You might ask! Well the cynical amongst us might think that is so they can effectively extend their weekends and they are probably right. Who wants to sit in Monday morning or Friday evening traffic if they don't have to? Why wouldn't someone start their weekend an hour or so earlier than they used to simply by shutting down the laptop and changing the room they are in?
So let's think about all the reasons why WFH works for an employee
- No costly commute
- Childcare is simpler
- Pets don't need daycare
- More flexibility
- Better work/life balance
- More comfortable clothing
- Less interruptions
- Meetings less likely to drag on
Real estate companies claim that empty office space in London has more than doubled in the last three years and warned that many office districts would struggle if there was nothing but a desk and a computer on offer. But there is definitely more we can do than just offer a desk to get offices back to the buzzing environments they used to be - a good chair would also be a great start!
If we look at the reasons why people LOVE to work from home we can soon come up with a list of reasons why they don't, and this is where we can start to look when thinking about creating an office environment that beats our own homes and therefore encourages our employees to use the office without feeling disheartened on the days that they do have to change out of their PJ's?
- Commute gives you valuable thinking/alone time
- We love our children but sometimes we just need time off as a parent
- Many offices allow pets on certain days
- Better structure
- Leave work at work
- Dressing up feels good
- Less distractions from home chores
- More face to face interactions
Added to this, some of the reasons workers give as to why they actually want to go to the office are....
- Aircon or heating is paid for
- Get to see work friends and have office bants
- Sit at a comfortable desk designed for working at rather than a dining table
- Getting dressed in a morning gives us purpose and confidence
- Background noise makes us feel part of something
- Get to pick up knowledge & share ideas
- Find out what's going on through conversations overheard
- When at the office we are more likely to take actual break times
So, let's take a look at some ideas as to how we create the right environment to address all these things..
Firstly, a breakout space where people can hold casual meetings or grab a cuppa with colleagues as well as actually take a break. Research shows when we take a break we are more productive than when we power through. We are sociable creatures and gone are the days when we go to the office, get our heads down for hours on end and don't speak to each other. By encouraging colleagues to interact we encourage collaboration which can only be good for business.
Consider a mix of open plan and closed offices if you have the space. Some people like background noise and some don't and a lot of us are happy to work in a noisy environment on some tasks but every now and then need some private space to concentrate. If background noise is too much then there are certain ways to help minimise it such as desk dividers or acoustic panels which can look funky as well as be functional.
Make meeting areas suitable to different types of meetings. A boardroom with big table is a must for, as the name suggests, things like board meetings but some meetings need a more creative environment, especially if its purpose is coming up with good ideas. Nobody gets excited about ideas in a room with blank walls and a big table so consider softer seating and decor. Also, smaller meeting areas for smaller meetings so people are sat close together and aren't lost in the abyss. Of course, we don't all have the luxury of space so in this case consider flexible options such as modular furniture and rooms within rooms.
At re:work we can help you create whatever environment you would like within budget and in a sustainable way by using a mix of used and new office furniture
Get in touch to talk chat through your ideas or visit our super showroom where we have loads of products you can try out for style and comfort