How Will Coronavirus Change the Office?
If there’s a silver lining to coronavirus, it’s that we have a blank slate to re-evaluate the future of work and the time to reflect on some potentially bad business practices.
While no one quite knows what’s in store for the future, there’s speculation on how COVID-19 might change the office. These range from the most obvious — such as a greater focus on safe working conditions — to more unexpected changes such as being excited for the workweek to begin.
In this blog, we look at ten things the office might remove or add to its belt post-coronavirus, as well as the short-term social distancing measures the government has put into place.
Short-Term “Social Distancing” Changes
The only given on this list is the short-term government guidelines for offices and contact centres. For the few office-based workers still clocking in during the pandemic, companies must provide a safe, disinfected working environment. Applying social distancing measures to all areas of work — such as workplaces, workstations, meetings and common areas — is strictly advised.
Practices like staggering arrival and departure times mean even office-based work feels far from normal. This coronavirus has swiped the idea of 9 to 5 work and replaced it with a much more flexible template.
The use of floor tape and the prohibition of sharing pens might make an office during this coronavirus pandemic seem a little too clinical. Luckily, these changes are designed to be short-term but which of them are set to stick?
We won’t be surprised to see plenty of career changes post-coronavirus as a result of having more time to reflect at home. Let’s face it, if you’re still dreading going to work after six weeks on furlough, it’s a good sign that you should pursue a career change.
For this reason, we expect the retention of workers to fluctuate soon after COVID-19.
This, paired with the obvious financial impact of coronavirus may lead companies to ditch long office leases for flexible, coworking solutions. Enterprise coworking spaces can accommodate over 250 team members on a non-contracted basis. This means you can afford to lose some staff, hire others and take your time to decide on the next step for your company, all without any long-term commitment.
Goodbye to Business Travel
The inability to cross borders has shed a light on unnecessary overseas business travel, of which we do plenty. Business travel accounts for 20% of all travel showing just how much we rely on physical meetings to build business relationships.
While hopping on a plane to discuss a singular subject is a poor use of time, it’s also incredibly damaging to the environment.
It isn’t until now that we’ve been challenged to test technological alternatives that might cause plenty of frequent flyers to reconsider in-person meetings if the subject could easily be addressed over a system like Zoom. As a result, quiet meetings rooms like our private offices might see a spike in demand.
Hello to a Closing Gender Pay Gap
The shift to flexible working makes workplace progression a more even playing field.
Being able to work around other priorities like family from your home environment could give women the boost they need to finally close the gender pay gap. Things like maternity leave could be more transitional and shared between parents, giving women a fighting chance of grabbing that all-important promotion.
As it stands, 42% of remote companies have female leaders showing that if more traditional businesses follow suit the disparity between genders is likely to fade away – and fast.
A Rise in After-Work Activities
We all know a member of middle management that tries in vain every week to get staff to stay behind for a self-development session or an after-work drink.
Ducking and diving to avoid these potentially awkward work-related activities might not be as commonplace now most of us have been starved of social interaction. If you feel like you need some replenishment post-coronavirus, you might find yourself suddenly fancying a quiet drink with your coworkers. Will this become the new normal? Maybe. Most likely it’s just a social binge.
What might rise in popularity and stay a social staple is coworking events that allow individuals to network in a professional capacity but with different people each week. At The Brew we never put on meaningless events with no set agenda. Instead, we organise activities that provide real value to our members, giving them the opportunity to dip in out of networking while building new and important skills.
Working from home has forced us to cap our meeting times and simplify our messaging as we turn to instant messaging systems like Slack.
While most of us can’t wait to go back to boardroom-style meetings where quality communication and body language are more apparent, we’ll certainly cut down on the amount of time we spend around the table.
Systems like Slack may have longevity in many company’s software stacks long after the virus has gone. As Slack’s current marketing shows, this system is an easier, automated way to CC all the right people into your messaging — without using email. Plus, it’s far superior to applications like WhatsApp for business use.
Wellbeing was already a trending topic in the workplace before coronavirus hit. Now, taking care of our employee’s physical and mental health has never been more important.
Since the outbreak, people have been checking in on each other more frequently as well as actually expecting a reply after the question, “how are you?”
As we become more focused on wellbeing, we may see a spike in common coworking practices like having a yoga studio, a cafe or a calm space as part of the overall office offering.
This huge vat of time won’t be forgotten as simply a blank space in the books. Instead, we expect coronavirus to send us through a cultural shift where ingrained business actions are rethought.
Will people shake hands with their stakeholders at every business meeting? Will hand sanitising become a ritual for every worker? Should we be cautious to brush shoulders with our coworkers post-coronavirus?
It’s safe to say that the recovery of COVID-19 will be gradual, potentially giving us grounds to subtly change our behaviour until it becomes the “new normal.”
By far the most educated guess of a coronavirus knock-on effect is the adoption of flexible working, which was already a hot topic.
If business leaders were considering going remote, granting flexible hours or allowing workers to partially work from home, then coronavirus has given them the push to do so and learn that everything will still function out-of-office.
Going remote, allowing flexible patterns and being okay with a blend of office and non-office workers requires you to lose an element of power over your workers. But funnily enough, in doing this you’ll be empowering your staff to take accountability, choose the most productive times to work and self-manage.
The End of Traditional Office Space?
Most people think COVID-19 will be responsible for the demise of the high street. We think it might also mark the end of traditional office-based work.
Traditional offices are expensive, sometimes difficult to access and full of office politics.
Companies looking to save money post-coronavirus are no doubt going to look at one of their biggest operating costs as an easy way to return to full financial health. And why not? Plenty of people are seeing the benefits of working on their own time, even if that’s in the confines of their living room. When coronavirus is a thing of the past, people will be able to access coworking spaces with top-of-the-range facilities, enriching events and opportunities for networking – even at a corporate level with over 100 people.
Get ready for the future of work by checking out our coworking spaces in London. Just minutes from the most accessible tube stations, these fun, dynamic workspaces are a contemporary alternative to the traditional office. If you’re a business looking to migrate, learn more about our private offices that can cater for between three and 400 people.