As we near the end of the great ‘work from home’ experiment, many organisations are now assessing the impacts of a workforce involuntarily distributed.
Remote working and social distancing has had surprising effects on our working lives, some positive and some negative. While much of the workplace research in this area has revealed an increase in achieving focused tasks, this positive outcome is countered with reports of diminishing connections to colleagues, and strains on workplace culture. Face to face communications and impromptu, social interactions between staff have been listed as important reasons for many to return to the office.
If our recent forced separation has revealed anything, it’s that people need people, and for many organisations, the office is being framed by a new perspective. As we come back together, many of our clients are asking how can they use their spaces to rebuild, or reinforce, the strength in their teams? For some the answer lies in ensuring the workspace actively supports and responds to the reasons people wish to return. This can be done by providing systems and settings that facilitate collaboration and connection in a safe manner. Areas once dedicated to a singular fixed purpose could be reconsidered with flexibility in mind to accommodate for the changing needs of groups. Tenancies of all sizes can be reviewed to determine their optimal ‘return to the office’ user experience and the unique needs of their staff.
As we edge our way back to ‘normal’ life, the optimal end goal for our working environments should be one where the office space works in partnership with your organisation’s needs and those who use it - your people. We have the opportunity to create a strengthened workplace experience which preserves the importance of nuanced human connections and organic communications. Sharing a smiling “good morning” as we enter the office, or that always perfectly timed question “I’m making a coffee, did you want one?” will be the bridge building moments to ease the anxieties of 2020. Safe, smart and healthy design can bring us back together, reinvigorate culture and support us in doing our best work, even better than we did before.
Read more from the Working in a new era series: