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The pandemic will probably be the most influential factor of the 21st century. It has changed all of our lives irrevocably. Even when we come out the other side, we will never go back to full working office space that we are so familiar with. Space is still what we desire and need to enable us to live and work safely. The popular consensus is that flexible working space will be the way forward.
Due to the current restrictions on our lives we have to work at home as much as possible. However, whilst this may suit some, may people are finding the isolation very difficult to deal with. Human interaction is very important for our mental well-being. Others are finding that their homes are not suitable for a place of work. This is where the flexible office could be the answer to our future co-working future.
There are different ways to create a flexible working office space. Hot-desking is when desks are available to employees, temps and visitors as and when they need them. The days of anyone having a desk with their name on it are gone. The desks can be booked remotely. Co-working spaces is similar to hot-desking but on a grand scale. These are areas used by freelancers and small businesses who rent desks from another company. Open offices are what we are familiar with. The open plan gives opportunity for flexible, moveable furniture. This enables the space to become what it is needed for.
However, all these spaces need order for them to work safely. A check in and out system would need to be implemented as well as rules for space. Technology can also be installed such as hands free vending machines, sensor door openings and ventilation processes. The spaces also need to be agile. So when one worker leaves the space can be filled with another worker almost immediately. In order for this to happen, a sanitising process will need to be in place.
Office design isn’t just about the work, it’s about how that work gets done. That means giving employees the spaces they need to do good work on their terms. There is a need to provide office space but it needs to be considered thoroughly for the long term. Don’t make any rash office refurbishment decisions that you may have to adapt as the pandemic situation changes. Your employees are so important and their safety is paramount. If they feel safe, they will come to the office.
A report, titled ‘Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown’ compiled by academics at Cardiff University and the University of Southampton, found that 88 per cent of employees who worked from home during lockdown would like to continue doing so in some capacity. And 47 per cent said they want to work from home often or all the time. However, this means that 53% said they wanted to return to the office.
There is a future for the flexible office and although the prospect of making the changes may seem daunting we are here to help.