As lockdown eases, hundreds of thousands of office workers will be returning to workplaces with a different approach. iQ Workspace, creators of intelligent workspaces, is working closely with organisations to smooth the transition from home to office, as the UK refines its approach to the ideal workspace.
The new “normal” is set to see enormous changes to the daily work protocol, which will require smart changes to office layout and furniture.
The seeds of workspace change
In 2019, the workplace revolution was already well underway, as leading companies were formulating talent acquisition strategies that offered flexible working arrangements and dynamic workplace environments.
Much work had been undertaken, acknowledging how the right workplace environment resulted in a happy, more productive workforce.
An extensive study of BT contact centres, by Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, found that worker happiness added 13% more productivity in the workplace.
Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, commented: “We found that when workers are happier, they work faster by making more calls per hour worked and, importantly, convert more calls to sales.
There seems to be considerable room for improvement in the happiness of employees while they are at work.”
Prof. Jan Emmanuel De Neve
“There seems to be considerable room for improvement in the happiness of employees while they are at work,” he added.
But what is the key to that happiness?
In late 2019, the Mindspace Happiness Survey, which encompassed the views of 5,000 workers around the world, identified seven key factors that affect workforce happiness:
- having a sense of purpose;
- feeling valued;
- the availability of wellness programmes;
- feeling engaged;
- working in a collaborative environment;
- having flexibility;
- being in a positive workplace culture.
Feeling valued, feeling engaged, having the right environment, having greater flexibility and a positive culture are all factors that can be significantly influenced by the set-up of the office.
A report by recruitment firm Robert Half, indicated that employees like the concept and practice of hybrid and flexible working, with 39% having sought to relocate while working remotely during lockdown, while half wanted to move to a four-day week.
In the race to secure the best talent and boost performance, UK businesses cannot afford to ignore the benefits of flexibility.
How Covid changed the office experience
Undoubtedly Covid has expedited the need for change in the workplace.
Culture change has been a necessity and flexibility has become normal, with many companies operating staggered work patterns and at least partial home working.
That in turn has changed the way office space is utilised, often freeing up floorspace for creative solutions that can influence the workplace environment.
This can mean new furniture concepts that offer greatercomfort and a relaxed atmosphere, or break-out areas to help with employee well-being.
Whilst offices did not become ghost towns, footfall within our offices was greatly reduced and consequently, overheads, such as use of power, were also diminished.
In February 2021, recruitment firm Robert Half reported that there had been a 190% increase in remote work job postings since the pandemic began.
Furthermore, the report indicated that 89% of businesses expect hybrid working, the workplace split between home and office, to become permanent after the pandemic.
How will the workplace change post-pandemic?
In May 2020, as the UK came to grips with its first Covid lockdown, writing for the BBC, Jessica Mudditt, observed how the pandemic was proving a catalyst for more dynamic workplace solutions.
Her observations initially focussed on ‘pandemic-proofing offices’ that offered workers greater levels of hygiene.
Among the measures were contingency plans to reduce the number of staff working in the office at any one time.
That notion immediately opens-up a world of opportunity in terms of better use of office space. Establishing how often a particular room or area is utilised, provides companies with exciting opportunities to re-design or even relocate to smaller premises, potentially saving on business rates and rent, while creating a happier workforce with greater flexibility to work remotely.
But whilst health concerns remain, offices will also have to adapt their workspace areas to offer additional reassurance and safety for work colleagues.
In Mudditt’s article, Brent Capron, interior design director at global design practice Perkins & Will in New York, underlined this point: “Previously, workstations were about privacy and acoustics. Now they represent a physical separation between colleagues. Until we hopefully have a vaccine, having that physical barrier will make people feel more comfortable.”
Mudditt also raises the prospect of future workplaces having hygiene stations, separated seating and more automation.
The use of buttons could be reduced in favour of smartphone technology to control elevators or coffee machines, while voice-activated technology could control meeting room features such as lighting, audio and visual equipment.
If the Robert Half report proves prophetic, then many companies will be looking to invest in new technology new and office layouts that can offer staff a different workplace experience.
The simple cost-effective solution
Decades of experience within the workspace, has given iQ Workspace an almost sixth sense when it comes to understanding how to boost a business with office re-design.
There has never been a more crucial time for companies to consider their workplace environment. Keeping staff morale and business momentum up, whilst maintaining well-being levels and hygiene, are going to help define success and failure.
iQ Workspace works collaboratively with businesses of all sizes, to understand business challenges and needs and to help deliver results that enhance productivity.
Contact us today to start your transformation to post-pandemic success.