The coronavirus has not only swept nations, but the whole planet, and it has caused a significant amount of uncertainty and provided many challenges for us this year. For every single organisation that is office based has now had an empty office space for months on end, in order to protect and reduce the spread of the virus. While it’s guidelines to follow these rules, it’s had a massive impact on the economy which has lead even the biggest retailers and businesses to go under.
It’s safe to say that our minds have become more focused on how important working in an office is, and if it is fact a necessity. There are many advantages and disadvantages, and throughout this article we’ll be exploring what the future holds for office spaces where many of us used to work from 9-5. For many of us, we’d prefer to work from home because it gives us more freedom and flexibility, however from another perspective, this could reduce the need for motivation, inspiration, and drive. Which kind of worker are you?
Can We Virus Proof Office Space?
To cut a long story short, it is possible to virus proof office space – but it’s a long term solution that needs a strategy and structure put in place almost every day. If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that viruses and bacteria spread incredibly fast, and it doesn’t discriminate. It can make a home out of any surface, which requires those surfaces to be cleaned and disinfected whenever a human comes into contact with it. This has huge implications when it comes to organisations that have high volumes of employees sharing and using each other’s space. How much space would an organisation need in order to fully follow these guidelines and protect themselves, and employees from future pandemics?
If you’re back in the office, you must have the relevant equipment and hygiene products in place. This means social distancing measures must be met, hand gloves, face masks or visors, hand sanitiser and spray should be provided because it is the employer’s responsibility to provide PPE equipment to protect their staff.
Remote Working: How Effective It Is
If anything, lockdowns have proved that we can work effectively, if not better remotely – well, for most of us anyway. It’s something we prefer because we’re in our own space, we have flexibility, freedom, less stress in the office environment. And with evolving technologies such as Zoom which skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, it makes it easier to connect and communicate with your team members. Of course, this paints a different picture if you prefer to have social contact, and your job requires you to be a cohesive unit and work closely together. It’s one person’s opinion and preferences against the other, and there’s no right or wrong answer.
For the more modern, minimalistic companies that have grown in the last few years – this is an event that they’ll more than likely adapt to, and grow from. Each generation is different, and as we now need to be mindful and considerate of the environment and our carbon footprint, it is wise to continue to rent out a large office building if you’re not going to be using it to its fullest potential?
Jim Coleman, Head of Economics, WSP UK said:
“I don’t think any business will want to go back to the way things were done, so that has had an immediate implication for space.”
Change is inevitable, which means businesses need to provide innovative solutions that work for the demand that has been created, or face a losing battle.
Reduce Operating Costs & Invest More in Technology
Businesses will be working from home until we’re way into 2021, or until the nation is virus free. We suspect that the big trend will be to downsize buildings and office space which in return will reduce operating costs, and invest more in their employees to retain them, or invest more in technology to set themselves apart from competitors.
Technology could be anything from more reliable computers, to ergonomic chairs, machinery equipment, sustainable and wellness solutions, and more. Companies will look for more modern, flexible office spaces because it’s the trending product right now. Open plan living spaces have seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years, and it’s the same with open place office space too. We are well aware that we can make do with less office space. You don’t necessarily need a high end, luxurious office space located in Central London or Paris for potential prospects and customers to know that you are a high end brand.
Coworking spaces, on the other hand, might just be the new trend and the ultimate destination for offices or the death of it because of covid19. Before the pandemic hit, sharing offices was great especially for freelancers, but unless we can make workspaces pandemic proof we don’t expect them to make a massive return in the years to follow.
The demand for office space has now hit an all time low but ONLY for certain industries. We’re talking about industries that can survive and thrive while working from home – such as marketing agencies, content agencies, technology companies and so on. Local businesses and companies have taken the big hard hit thanks to the pandemic, because their roles require physically being out in the field and not in the office 24/7. While we speak about the low demand for office space, it also raises the question of the new developments, and this will essentially be down the dynamics of demand and supply in local markets.