5 Ideas for the Post-Pandemic Office
As the Covid Pandemic eases in the US, many companies are trying to figure out what the future of their office will look like. According to a recent 2Bridge Partners Poll, more than half the people, 65%, said they prefer a hybrid work schedule that allows them to work both on-site and remotely once the pandemic ends.
Companies are listening. Many of our clients are offering fully Remote or Hybrid work arrangements. Read below for 5 Ideas for the Post-Pandemic Office:
1: Offices Need to Encourage Employee Connection
Numerous studies affirm that employees are more focused when they work from home on individual tasks. Time in the office should be used for group tasks like brainstorming new ideas, team meetings, and training.
Offices will be used as gathering spaces for these events, including meetings as well as social engagements that foster a sense of community and shared purpose. This could include places for lunch or coffee, and casual spaces for face-to-face meetings. The office will remain crucial for onboarding new hires and for training to create an inclusive culture.
2: More Support for New Hires and Building Community
Reports show that during the pandemic people tended to collaborate more with coworkers they had established relationships with, or who were more tenured with the organization. It was challenging for new hires to develop relationships. It will be important for companies to hold events that brings people together, particularly new hires. This will be especially important for younger employees and interns looking for mentorship and career growth. It’s hard to learn from people if there’s no access to them.
While there are tools like slack and video chats to accomplish this, face to face interactions are important ways to build relationships. Encouraging interactions will promote collaboration when employees are working remotely.
3: Uniform Communication Tools
When the pandemic began people used whatever they had to communicate. At this point most organizations have settled on a suite of tools for email, messaging, video chats, document sharing, etc. There are lots of inexpensive tools out there that people acquired. Too many tools can create confusion. Companies should determine what the best tools are for their business and roll them out to everyone. It’s important that the tools people use in the office are effective at home and allow for real-time engagement between geographically dispersed teams.
4: Improved Video Meetings
Companies need easy to use tools so that people in different locations can participate in meetings and events. Even when offices open there will likely be staggered schedules, and possibly capacity limits in their space. With quality audio and video equipment people can get the in-person experience even if they’re not there.
In-person events will require participants to be spread out more than pre-pandemic. Materials may need to be larger so participants on-site can see them. They’ll have to be modified so that people joining virtually can see view them on their screen. Meetings should have a system where virtual and in-person attendees can participate equally. All this equipment should be tested and in working order well in advance of the meeting start time.
This should extend to meetings with clients and partners as well, allowing more real time collaboration and reducing the need for business travel.
5: Clearly Set Boundaries
An advantage to virtual meetings is that you can be productive while waiting for a participant to join, rather than sitting in the lobby. At the same time, it means more messages on Slack, Teams, Instant Messenger, and email. People are responding quicker, and messages are being sent around the clock. When people are working at home it’s often hard to set boundaries and turn work off. Good managers will address this and create boundaries, so employees know when they are expecting to be working and respond immediately, and when they are off the clock.
While few people want to return to an 8-6 schedule 5 days a week, most employees prefer the option and availability of an office outside of their home. People want the social interaction and collaboration an office encourages, while having flexibility to do individual work or tasks that require focus remotely. As companies and offices continue to adapt, our concept of the office will continue to evolve.