With the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing, many companies have had to resort to teleworking. More than two years after the first incarceration, these teleworking habits have disrupted traditional spaces. After knowing the home office sometimes 100%, employees strive for a different organization. What are the changes of business premises?
Business premises remain significant
While some companies have completely given up on having offices, these premises are still important to most of them. Because despite the development of many communication tools, the office remains the best place to create social bonds. A WhatsApp conversation will never replace an informal chat over coffee. These rooms also allow for a more fluid flow of ideas between employees, especially during face-to-face meetings.
The fight against isolation is also one of the challenges of tomorrow’s telework. Because some employees were overwhelmed by stress or experienced a decrease in motivation due to the absence of colleagues and social interactions.
Nevertheless, this office must reinvent itself. Health safety and the expectation of a new pandemic will now govern the layout of work areas. Companies will have to imagine furniture that can be easily moved to increase the distance between employees or create smaller workgroups. The presence will also have to be reviewed with fewer employees on site at the same time.
Development adapted to new needs
In addition to health standards, the company’s premises must develop in order to adapt to the employees’ new needs. Since hybrid rhythm between telework and face to face seems to have become the norm, appropriate equipment is required. While most offices were previously organized in open spaces with a few closed offices and meeting rooms, the work areas become more diversified. Companies can e.g. decorate with “telephone rooms” designed for meetings by telephone, or even “huddle rooms” for meetings with video, but also more private and quieter rooms that promote concentration.
According to the third climate study 2020-2021 from the European Investment Bank (EIB) *, the pandemic has confirmed the ecological awareness of the population. The employees therefore want a more respectful working environment with durable materials, good air circulation, thermal and acoustic comfort and greener places.
And in the times when employees have to work externally, employers will have to invest in high-performance digital tools in various areas:
- for communication, which remains a basis for employee well-being;
- for productivity;
- to facilitate the management of projects and the follow-up of everyone’s tasks;
- for work comfort with a high-performance smartphone and computer.
Coworking as an alternative
Among the alternatives to the face-to-face duo and home office, coworking seems to be a great place. These common areas of work already existed before the pandemic, but they have really gained momentum since the generalization of telework.
They make it possible to break the isolation of a professional activity alone at home and bring some welcome flexibility. In general, they offer services that contribute to the well-being of workers, such as isolated rooms for telephony, a catering service, places to relax, cozy rooms, etc. There are several formulas. You can just settle down for a few hours somewhere that looks like a cafe or rent a closed office on a monthly basis.
These locations also allow employees who do not have a home suitable for teleworking to have a quiet place. Moreover, it is for this type of workers some hotels offer to rent their rooms during the day.
On the business side, this can also be a great way to save money. With offices deserted by some of their employees, renting premises can seem unnecessary and too expensive. Financing the rental of shared offices seems cheaper and more flexible. A company that is growing rapidly, for example, can more easily adapt its office premises than if it has to constantly look for larger premises. It is the same for a company that has a variable activity throughout the year with more or fewer employees.
* Survey conducted among 30,700 people aged 15 and over, from the 27 European countries, UK, China and USA, and surveyed online by BVA from 5-10-2020 to 2-11 -2020.
(By the editorial staff at the hREF bureau)