6 Ways the ‘Return to the Office’ Might Look Different

In the last year, it’s fair to say that there’s been more change to our working lives than we could ever have imagined. With that in mind, it’s hard to predict what the next few years might have in store for the working world. But, with the vaccine roll-out promising a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, we’re starting to look forward and ask – how might the post-pandemic office look different?

1. No more 9 – 5

If Covid’s taught us one thing, it’s that flexibility is key. From juggling unexpected home-schooling to back-to-back digital meetings, we’ve become used to getting our work done when, and where, we can. There’s now more focus than ever on the fact that people work best at different times – and businesses are starting to recognise that.

We’ve all learnt to adapt and change while experimenting with the different working conditions, and finding what best suits us. Allowing colleagues to maximise their productivity and make the most of their time by introducing flexible working patterns can be a change that we see coming into the work environment as part of the post-pandemic world.

2. We’ll focus on outputs

As well as working flexibly, the last 15 months have taught us to work smarter – we’ve been stretched, and we’ve had to prioritise getting the things that need to be done, done. With this, comes an appreciation that hours don’t always reflect outputs. With the right environment, it’s possible to ramp up productivity and achieve a lot in a condensed period. Could this mean a move towards task-based working, business cultures focused on ultimate output, and a chance to banish presenteeism for good?

3. Office space could work in zones

Having a designated office space will always be important. It helps us feel connected to where we work, and develop trusted working relationships, strengthened by face-to-face interaction. Now, businesses have an opportunity to retain the best bits of office culture, while getting rid of bad habits. One way to do this? Zones.

Utilising office design can be an creative way to connect the workplace and give colleagues a sense of belonging. Creating zones based on priority, function, and desired output could encourage productivity and ultimately create a slicker, more streamlined way of working.

4. Collaboration hubs will be king

Collaboration hubs are one of the most important areas for an office to include. Remote working makes it hard to collaborate and communicate effectively – which can be a real hamper to creativity and thinking differently. Creating defined collaboration hubs, either as part of an existing office area, or in a new and designated space, could help boost team work, encourage effective ways of working and helping bring people together safely, after time apart.

5. Considering a resized footprint

As well as the cost-saving implication of reviewing an office floor-plate, there are other factors that could lead to a different office footprint. If businesses start thinking about their space as a resource in the same way we’ve come to think of our time, the need to work smarter, and make space work harder per square foot, is inevitable. With a clever use of design, the right fit-out and furniture, and a flexible workforce, businesses can turn their office space into their own unique hub of productivity. Creating space for different activities within a hub to collaborate, focus or take 5, will give employees the space that suits them, no matter the project.

6. Connecting home to the office

We know that the office will always play a vital part in our working worlds. But, the lessons we’ve learnt about the benefits of working from home – at least part time – will no doubt be carried through into a post-pandemic way of life. Finding the ideal balance will be key, and businesses of all shapes and sizes would do well to look at hybrid-working, starting to flip their thinking from just getting people to work, and looking at opportunities to bring work to people, too.