At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a shared apprehension among both employees and business owners about working from home and adapting to lockdown life. But the results have been relatively positive with 71% of employers reporting staff exceeding typical productivity and collaboration from their sofas as business continued as usual.
The corporate world saw an abundance of new perks, including:
- Less time spent commuting.
- Packing lunches (more time for a healthy lifestyle and work attention).
- Childcare and pet care arrangements were cancelled as people embraced a balanced, healthier lifestyle.
- Virtual collectives quickly became the new norm (and without any additional snags than the ‘typical’ office day).
Overall, the transition to lockdown life was relatively smooth for employees and people started to realise this could (and should) have been implemented years ago. But now that times are changing once more, how can we prepare ourselves for the transition back into office life and what can businesses do to support their employees?
The Flip Side
Whilst working from home opened up many new opportunities for many of us, there were some aspects that didn’t translate quite as well – for some, the lack of physical connection and conversation was found all too challenging, and others found technical difficulties to be too much of a hassle, and of course distractions surrounded us all. Whilst many of us found the new way of working ideal, others struggled. That said, the ever-evolving, digitally connected and adaptable society that we are, were quick to respond to find a new solution, supporting a gradual return to the workplace.
This office design function supports staff members working from home and those in the office, helping to support the transition of team members returning to office life one step at a time.
Businesses have found an increase in productivity among their teams with better collaboration helping to build working relationships, more possibilities for learning and an increased satisfaction among staff, culture and mental health.
A hybrid working structure can take many forms to support the modern-day office within a covid secure environment, for example:
- Splitting the teams up per days of the week eg Marketing teams to be in the office on Monday’s and Wednesday’s with Customer Support teams coming in on Tuesday’s and Friday’s.
- Meeting zones with socially distant spaces and interactive boards/TV screens to aid communication between staff members in the office and those working from home.
Another office design system that accommodates access, participation and supports a covid secure workplace is flexible working; a flexible work arrangement empowers an employee to choose what time they start and finish work, and where they work from and on which days (eg from the office or remotely from home or a nearby coffee shop). Other examples of flexible working include:
- Compressed work week
- Job sharing
- Reduced hours (part time)
- Gradual retirement
Allowing employees to have agency over how they get things done can be empowering, helping to improve overall job satisfaction and work-life balance whilst supporting a socially distanced way of working, leading to more motivated and happier workers.
Think musical chairs, but for desks! Hot desking allows an employee who isn’t always in-office to make use of the entirety of the space and facilities as and when they need to, instead of being assigned a specific space that barely gets used.
For some businesses, rows and rows of desks and chairs work well, whilst others prefer smaller areas with fewer, unassigned desks for teams to utilise at their leisure. All desks are fair game, although in line with Covid-19 guidelines it is recommended that every other desk is used to incorporate social distancing.
Returning to the office presents a host of logistical challenges in terms of sanitation and distancing between colleagues, but by implementing and re-designing existing office spaces to spread out the traffic, embracing contactless processes and restrict in-office population, there is a manageable and functional solution.
Whilst we begin to transition back to office life, it’s reassuring to know that a multitude of remote/flexible working options are now widely accepted and adaptable for a variety of workplaces – businesses are embracing a new way of working with their teams’ comfort, satisfaction and wellbeing in mind.
At Plann:d we prioritise function, safety and creativity to create unique spaces that work for the here and now – and the future too. Get in touch today for advice, information and inspiration on how to better the transition of your teams back into the workplace.