We have all been challenged with significant changes to the way we work in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our work-life balance has never been so acutely juxtaposed and tested as it has in 2020 with the introduction of expanded remote work practices and separation from our colleagues. As we look to the future of the physical workplace, the lasting impacts of the viral pandemic spur opportunities to envision our work environments in a new light, with a critical emphasis on balanced design.
Following the rapid expansion of corporate remote-working practices and flexible working policies, the next workplace must become an augmented hub supplementing a secondary home office. Perhaps the most critical challenge of the next work environment will be to continue to foster meaningful relationships.
An Adaptive Solution
“The Commons” workspace is 10,000 square feet designed for an anticipated 50% peak level utilization by 100 to 125 employees (50-60 staff). Comparatively, the company’s previous leased space was 19,500 square feet for the same 100-125 employees with assigned seating. This new model could serve a single company. It also presents an opportunity to create a coworking space with outside contractors and partner companies as a collective work environment.
In The Commons, extra measures will be implemented to create an environment where employees feel safe. Additionally, a variety of sustainability and wellness strategies, such as compost and recycling stations, increased fresh air flow, greater air filtration, access to telemedicine during business hours, and nutritious daily Grab ‘n’ Go food options, will communicate healthy lifestyle choices throughout the space.
As remote employees come together for group interactions, the home/office mix will require substantial team spaces, adaptable group settings and abundant access to collaborative technologies. Movable components—walls, power, furniture and technology—will support changing teamwork needs from one day to the next. The office will incorporate generous conveniences to draw people in. A tech bar and media area will lend physical resources and software support. A portion of the floor is converted as the indoor/outdoor terrace work café—that will offer employees access to fresh air, sunlight, greenery, with the ability to seal during inclement weather—provides another shared amenity. Pervasive communication is key in reinforcing the company’s vision and mission. Brand elements, employee interest walls, daily podcasts (like classroom morning announcements) and monthly in-person town hall events will reunite distributed workers to the organization.
The future office must:
- Flex – by leaving only about 15% of the space for individual workspaces, while the rest is designed for collaboration and meeting
- Attract – new employees, clients and the community to a space with best-in-class tools
- Be smart – by capturing data to drive future modifications and providing features and controls that limit the need for physical touch
- Reunite people – by providing a setting with tools that enhance and support face-to-face collaboration
- Empower the individual – by offering employees the ability to change function of their environment
- Communicate – by conveying culture through amenities and sharing brand strategy as well as company mission and values through leadership touchpoints
To learn more about this new concept, read our full paper on The Commons.