The Office of the Future: A Venue for Collaboration
— November 26th, 2020
In September 2020, a study showed that employees were 47% more productive working remotely in March of 2020 than they were in March of 2019. Yet, studies also show that 94% of people would like to spend at least one day a week in the office. While these studies may seem disconnected, they both point to one thing: flexibility is the key for increased productivity. Employees want to be productive. And they want in-person collaboration too. Many companies are finding that in order to meet the needs of their employees, they must adapt their physical workplace and their work policies. This realization is causing a rise in hybrid work policies, and a complete reimagination of office design—and office purpose.
Shifting the Purpose of the Office
While working remotely offers many benefits to employees, one of the biggest drawbacks is the limitations of digital collaboration with team members. 69% of employees stated that they feel detached from their team, and 58% say they struggle to see their larger purpose in the organization while working remotely. To combat the feelings of isolation and lack of purpose, the future of work should incorporate the option to utilize the office space as a venue for collaboration. To do this, employers need to adjust their current space to be more conducive to collaboration and less geared toward individual work. This can be done in many ways, with many companies already investing in large-scale office redesigns that reduce desk space and increase collaborative space. These new spaces range in size, layout, technology, and purpose. REI, for example, recently sold its 400,000 sq foot campus in Bellevue, WA and is planning to have multiple satellite locations across the regions to give their employees more flexibility in where they work with the ability to still come to a collaborative space.
Traditional Office vs. Hybrid Office
With more people working remotely than ever before, now is the time for companies to reconfigure their office space to meet the needs of their evolving workforce. Around 70% of employers are looking to downsize their office space post COVID. Gone are the days of each employee having their own assigned desk or office. Gone is the mindset of fitting as many people into one space as possible. The office of the future provides a healthy combination of individual workspaces and collaborative areas. With fewer people coming into the office, one employee can temporarily use a desk when needed, and another employee may use it the next day. Some experts believe that many employers are going to realize that they do not need physical space for 100% of their employees, but maybe only 60 to 75%. This flexibility in workplace design will allow everyone to have the space to work both alone and with others—whatever the needs of the project or day demand.
The Importance of Technology in Collaborative Office Spaces
Once an employer has committed to creating a collaborative office space, they now need to find a way to manage it safely and effectively. Social distancing practices and contact tracing are crucial in providing a safe environment for people when they return to the office. SmartSpace Global (Poppulo) offers an easy-to-use solution to this problem—providing both a Hot Desking and Desk Hoteling app, as well as contact tracing reporting. This solution provides a way for employees to reserve a desk through a mobile device or a web application when they arrive at the office or in advance, allowing employees the ability to take advantage of desk or room space without the need for a permanent, dedicated desk. In addition to supporting flexibility in the workplace, the platform’s data analytics tool also gives valuable insight into which desks and shared spaces are being used, enabling employers to track usage patterns over time, identify under-utilized areas of the office, and find new opportunities for space usage.
The future of work is now, and employers must adapt to meet the needs of their evolving workforce. With the changes in office space utilization and how team members collaborate, now is the time to implement technology to both keep employees safe and to optimize the office space.