2020 was literally a rollercoaster ride. Despite a few silver linings such as warehouse, industrial, and third-party logistics, the majority of sectors took a shellacking, with office, retail, restaurant, and residential properties getting the worst of it.
Over the last year, closures related to COVID-19 threw commercial spaces into semi-permanent damage control. There’s little doubt over the fact that COVID-19 has transformed the way we work, live, recreate, and even eat—maybe permanently. However, industry and business are naturally adaptive, including the individuals that manage, maintain, build, and design commercial office buildings.
In 2021, we expect significant changes in office design trends. So, without further ado, let’s see what our facilities support services expert thinks the year ahead may bring.
1. Taking work outdoors
If you want to improve workplace satisfaction and wellness, embrace outdoor spaces whenever possible. Thanks to safe outside spaces, you’ll be able to maintain your employees’ physical and mental health, ensuring employees feel a connection with the workplace—the spaces where they spend their time. By combining proper safety protocols (for example, surface cleaning and physical distancing) and the right furniture with these amenities, you’ll give employees an extra bit of freedom in choosing where and how they work most productively and comfortably.
Besides this, outdoor workspaces will allow firms to re-establish a sense of community for individuals who have been working from home for about a year now. Yes, people like the idea of being outside for a ton of reasons. However, workspaces are usually designed for social interactions, such as having respite or lunch outside. But the idea of creating a productive outdoor workspace shouldn’t be ruled out—a space where people can feel safe and benefit creatively. By having a comfortable outdoor space, individuals will not just connect with one another, but with nature as well. So, if you want your team to leverage the benefits that biophilia has to offer, don’t hesitate to spend on outdoor furniture solutions and technology. There must be a space that allows employees to recover from mental fatigue, feel relaxed, and connect with nature, and an outdoor workspace gives employees just that!
2. Focusing on wellness
With more individuals returning to offices, the office design’s main emphasis would be to ensure the health and wellness of the returning employees. The training for managers and their subordinates, resources, policies, and even the workplace (space division and furniture) must support mental and physical wellness.
Numerous companies may operate with a hybrid model—where employees split time between home and office every week. Consequently, more home-related elements will be incorporated into the offices for creating spaces that are emotionally engaging and physically comfortable. By keeping comfort at the forefront of the design, offices will be able to mitigate stress as well as the physical challenges that come with it. In addition, one can support workplace wellness by promoting social interactions. Why? Because millions of employees have stayed virtually connected for the most part of 2020. Therefore, offices must come up with ways to encourage employees to engage with one another, whether through connecting with colleagues on social media, virtual events, or socially distant meetings outside. Everyone requires some kind of human interaction—this is especially true for times like these.
While physical support is an integral component of wellness considerations, it shouldn’t be the only one. Organizations must introduce resources, procedures, and policies for increasing transparency and determining how firms are working to encourage health and wellbeing. Since managers can help in setting a team’s tone, they can train leadership to set a constructive working environment and balance their workloads. If you want to gain quick feedback on your team’s unique requirements, just ask them how you can be of help. By setting various parameters in place, every employee will be able to work in comfort—physical barriers and social distancing can help shape your entire strategy.
3. Designing using post-COVID workplace considerations
2020 came with a huge set of challenges, which accelerated numerous workplace trends—like health and wellbeing, choice, and mobility, thereby shaping future expectations for the workplace. In 2021, the workplace will have to learn from the past and have to evolve as it becomes more adaptable to change. By taking a human-centered approach for developing workplace strategy, the business owners will be able to design and maintain a constructive company culture that supports employees both within and outside of the office.
In order to adapt for the future, business owners must reflect deeply on the long-term strategies to bring individuals together in a healthy, safe way. Here are some considerations one must take before coming up with such strategies:
- Consider air circulation: There’s no better way of containing spread and mitigating risk than to maintain indoor air quality. This means a lot of companies should evaluate their air ventilation systems and adapt in accordance.
- Focus on social spaces: In order to maintain employee interactions without compromising on safety, larges spaces must employ social distancing measures. This can be done through the implementation of new policies for disinfecting and regularly cleaning to help keep social spaces safe and clean.
- Invest in technology: With more remote working, business owners must invest in tools and technology required to work virtually. This will create an environment where remote employees will still be able to work as a team, despite not being present physically. By using the right technology and systems, business owners will be able to come up with safe, user-friendly spaces to accommodate the returning employees.
- Flexibility is important: Companies across the globe must become responsive and dynamic to disruptive events. By creating an adaptable workplace strategy, from hybrid policies that encourage employees to work remotely to movable barriers and flexible furniture, the business owners will prepare their workplace for 2021 and beyond.
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