news • Jun 22 2023

The Workplace of the Future

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we work has changed. Previously, the typical workday was centered around a morning commute and a solid 8 hours behind a desk at an office. Flash forward three years, and things look very different. Companies have been forced to re-evaluate their space or be left behind. 

Here’s a look at how the traditional workplace continues to evolve, creating a future unlike anything we’ve seen before. 

 

The Changing Face of Work

While many people still work the typical 9-to-5 office role, there’s a significant population who have adopted alternative methods of putting in a day’s work. Although fully remote work functions well for some individuals, many organizations and businesses have adopted a hybrid workplace model, which is meant to provide employees with a greater sense of flexibility and autonomy. 

The objective is to have work completed “by what makes the most sense to drive the highest levels of productivity and engagement.” Maybe it’s a couple days spent at home, a couple in the office, and a day at a “micro-site,” where just a few team members gather to collaborate. The theme is the ability to choose what best works for you. 

 

Hybrid Options

The hybrid workplace model has several offshoots, each providing an alternate set of pros and cons which depend on each company’s style.

Activity-based work follows a belief that people need a variety of different settings in which to complete a full day’s work. Whether it’s quiet space for individual work, meeting rooms for collaboration, or presentation areas that are supplemented by extensive technology, ABW embraces an untraditional methodology. 

Another popular choice is “hot-desking,” where people use whichever desk they want, eschewing the typical assigned cubicle lifestyle for a temporary system that maximizes space efficiency. 

Some companies have chosen a system with the goal of reducing their need for office space. A week-by-week model allows a group of employees to work in the office during a specific week, followed by another week working at home. They alternate weeks with another group of staff, minimizing the needs for desk space and operating costs. Like many systems, there can also be downsides. Companies that need their entire staff on hand at once will want to choose another option. 

Another popular option is a remote-friendly attitude, which may allow employees to schedule occasional days to work from home. Some companies also utilize a remote-friendly system that allows them to recruit top talent to work remotely, even if they’re not local. While the majority of employees work in the office, this allows a business to recruit an elite pool of potential candidates no matter their location. The downside is that some other employees may find the privilege of some staff being able to work from home quite unfair. 

Despite this, it’s simply an illustration that there are no strict parameters placed upon an organization that adopts a hybrid workplace model. Instead, they can determine what works best for them.

 

How Your Office Space Can Adapt

With the rise of remote work, employers realized they have to do their best to entice employees back to the workplace. After all, a lengthy morning commute and stale office environment isn’t a particularly attractive offer. Enter the concept of place-making, an approach to the design of spaces that fosters the lives of the people within them. 

A workplace that considers elements of place-making allows it to adapt to the new ways we work. That could potentially mean implementing a hot-desking model, or converting a space into one with an attractive interior design concept that fosters creativity. 

Experts suggest that the workplace of the future places a vital emphasis on collaboration. Since a hybrid system allows employees to get some work done remotely, this time they spend in the office will focus on that. Brittany Van Matre, Nike’s director of workplace strategy and operations, correctly asserted that the office must become “a kickass headquarters with lots of amenities and a super slick experience” if it’s going to maintain employees.” 

This means shifting from fixed spaces that solely serve one function to a more fluid space that can adapt as it is needed. For example, Jim Keane, president and CEO of Steelcase Inc., wrote in a Harvard Business Review column how his company transformed their workplace “by designing an open area that supports hybrid meetings in the morning, becomes the café at lunch, hosts a town hall in the afternoon, and can be rented for an evening event.” 

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