After a long, strange year, employers are starting to find a new normal for their physical workplaces. Remote working has been successful, but research shows that executives expect about half of their employees will be back in the office by July of 2021. Many companies are considering a hybrid model for their office space.
If you’re making a plan for who will be in the office and when and how often, don’t forget to consider how your physical space might need to change to incorporate your new plan. Vaccinated or not, employees will need to adhere to safe protocols and incorporate new technologies. If it’s done correctly, a hybrid workplace model might change the office layout, design, and provisions. GOS has some ideas about how to make that hybrid model possible.
Design for people
The low-cost, cramped seating office setup may go by the wayside in the wake of the pandemic. Good riddance, we say. That design has been shown to be detrimental to morale and productivity for years; with COVID-19 in the picture, it could also be a health risk, as well.
A new office design for a hybrid workspace should incorporate places to connect safely. You might consider a long high-top table in an open alcove, a place for a few people to gather safely. You could also create sofa spaces for informal meetings. Both of these suggestions allow space not only for social distancing, but also for impromptu interactions with passer-bys; that type of connection is one of the greatest benefits of being back in the office together.
Customize for technology
By definition, hybrid entails collaboration between workers inside and outside the office. We’ve learned how to do that from home when we’re all remote, but doing that from a hybrid office might require a little reconfiguring.
Your conference room might need a makeover. You might need fewer seats around the large conference table, or you might need to replace one large table with a couple of smaller ones that are appropriately spaced but still in the range of the camera.
You’ll also want to think about employees having video calls at their desks. Consider investing in headsets for your employees to reduce external noise. You might also purchase portable desktop acoustic panels to allow for increased soundproofing and privacy on an ad-hoc basis.
Create for engagement
“Resimercial” is a new trend in office design. The term was coined before the pandemic as Millennials and Gen Z started to form the majority of the workforce. These workers have grown up with technology as an immersive part of their life, blurring the line between residential and commercial. COVID-19 has made it a reality for nearly all employees, though. Regardless of age, we’ve become more accustomed to our work space looking like a our living space … and vice versa.
Resimercial design helps employees feel at home (literally) in their office environments. Allowing that type of comfort might in turn allow for more intimate, authentic engagement among co-workers as they share that space.
Resimercial design might include some of these features:
- Mix of textures/silhouettes
- Natural light/ambient lighting
- Wool rugs, large curtained windows
- Classic house plants
- Comfortable seating
- Durable upholstery
- Natural fibers
Work in Progress
No matter how you go about it, your return to the workplace will be a work in progress. Flexibility will go a long way in this process, and that’s something we’ve certainly been practicing since the pandemic began. It’s important to listen to each other and try to accommodate ideas and preferences as you are able. As your workplace shifts to create a new normal, GOS is here to support you every step of the way.