There’s no denying that coronavirus changed life as we know it in 2020 and beyond. But how has the pandemic affected office life? And in fact, will there even continue to be an ‘office life’ going forward?

Working from Home 

WFH may have become the most used acronym in 2020, but could it continue into 2021? The benefits of working from home have been felt by many, including:

  • No commute / travel costs
  • Extra time with family
  • Working in comfort

From becoming accustomed to this way of working now, and seeing that they can still operate effectively, business owners in the future may be more comfortable with implementing a working-from-home policy in their business.

As a company, we have certainly seen the benefits of allowing employees a more flexible working schedule.

According to the ONS, in April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did some work at home, and of those, 86% of them did so as a result of the Covid pandemic. Whilst 30% of those workers claim they worked more hours than usual, 34% admitted they worked less.

survey of company leaders found that 80% plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic, and 47% will allow employees to work from home full-time.

Does this mean that more and more office buildings will be standing vacant in the near future?

We don’t think the shift will be quite that extreme.

Whilst some companies will look to reduce costs by getting rid of their office base altogether, most will likely opt for a blended model of home working and office working.

The long term shift will be more than likely towards home working being the default, as opposed to office working. Offices will then likely resemble co-working spaces and conference centres as their purpose shifts towards collaboration and socialising.

The change in office environments

If we believe that offices are here to stay in some capacity, how will they change and adapt to the new normal?

Well, first and foremost, offices will become far more sterile – not just because of the hygiene measures required to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – but because there will be fewer personal items left by employees.

If offices undergo a shift towards collaborative spaces promoting flexi-working, we may see the end of ‘individual desks’ and therefore a reduction in ‘clutter’. We have previously examined the art to keeping your desk hygienic after discovering that the average desk contains 400 more times more germs than a toilet seat! Perhaps a shared workspace will eliminate some of our bad habits when it comes to desk cleanliness.

 

Also, offices have a much greater purpose than simply offering employees a desk and computer screen to work from. With this in mind, some companies are investing in a complete office redesign!

Portview (an internal fit-out firm), is investing £2.5 million in a reimagined head office which will house employee perks such as a gym, a nurse’s office for health consultations and terraces and balconies with plants to “connect employees with the natural environment”, says its managing director Simon Campbell.

I’m sure many of us would be much more eager to get to the office for 9am if those sorts of facilities were on offer!

Social distancing

We’re being continually told by the Government and the scientists that the vaccine rollout does not spell an immediate end to social distancing… so how does office life work with a 2 metre rule?

According to Government guidelines, some of the measures we can put in place to maintain social distancing at work include:

  • using floor tape or paint to mark work areas
  • providing signage to remind people to keep a 2m distance
  • having people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • limiting movement of people:
    • rotating between jobs
    • using lifts and work vehicles
    • in high-traffic areas like corridors, turnstiles and walkways
    • allow only essential trips within buildings and between sites

They also suggest we should increase ventilation by opening windows and doors (a novel idea with the current temperatures!) and limit the number of people permitted in a common area at any one time (no more loitering by the water cooler!)

 To be extra safe, we should all be avoiding the sharing of stationary etc, and of course – plenty of hand sanitiser should be provided for use of employees.

The Future

 With the future of office working looking set to change, business must adapt in order to ride the wave successfully. Here at Well Polished Commercial, we’ve implemented all the Government guidelines on safe office working and all the safety precautions necessary for completing our offsite jobs!