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Matthew Brosius

Workplace Trends for COVID – 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic has had huge impacts on the economy and many businesses have been forced to shut down operations. Those that remain continue to adjust to the rapid shifts that have seen less and less socialization to help stop new infections.

As we edge closer to 2021, we are starting to see how COVID-19 is shaping the workspace with designers and everyone else working hard for the prospects of a safer, more promising future. 

4 Trends for a Post-COVID Workplace

In the next sections, we explore how workplace design may change due to COVID, changes in employee positions, special benefits for employees and how to boost collaboration amongst employees.

1. Hybrid Work Positions

Hybrid Work Positions

Remote work has been the norm in 2020 due to calls for social distancing and avoiding contact with other people as a way to halt the virus. With cases soaring into the holiday season and winter, pundits expect remote working to persist, at least until the COVID threat is over. However, working from home has its downsides, some of which have forced workspace designers to develop models that accommodate in-person work.

The traditional in-person work is vital for collaboration and miles away from the on-screen communications and partnerships available for remote workers. An eminent solution is making work schedules flexible to accommodate days of remote working and in-person collaborations, so the business can benefit from both working positions. Companies will also need to ensure safety during the in-person workdays.

However, supporting both positions won't be an easy feat for every business. The task will be to determine how to facilitate remote workers, optimize productivity and ensure prime collaboration without putting your employees at risk. This might require implementing third-party collaboration applications and deploying a solid framework to eliminate gaps as your personnel transition between remote and in-person working schedules.

2. The Individual Workspace May Reemerge

The Individual Workspace May Reemerge

Before 2020, open office floors were touted to ultimately replace individual workspaces. Open plans are easier to clean because of the limited number of walls and surfaces for employees to touch. These spaces are popular for their impact on the collaborative potential of a workforce. Eliminating walls and barriers to collaborations was touted to lead workspace designs, but this was quickly halted when everyone realized it is much safer to work secluded.

Individual workspaces may reemerge in 2021, with the goal shifting to ensuring social distancing and airflow. These can still be achieved in open design offices by creating secluded spaces to increase privacy and limit the number of employees that can pass through or access the area at any given time. For office plan designers, the goal is to maintain an open feel while limiting the chance of exposure from one employee to another.

One of the emerging choices is plexiglass dividers that can be used to separate individual workspaces while providing a transparent view that enables more forms of communication without the added risk of infection. Plexiglass isn't the only option for companies seeking to retain their office plans. Designers have come up with innovative working positions and setups that can be implemented for open design offices to allow one-on-one interactions while preventing exposure. 

3. Workplace "Extras" May Become More Simple

Workplace Extras May Become More Simple

Workplace extras like coffee bars and social breakrooms emerged as highlight perks of an effective workplace. These extras were major selling points pre-COVID but are now poised to fall back, gather dust, or be turned into better use. Coffee bars and break rooms are designed to promote congregations and personal interactions essential for collaboration and forging new relationships. Unfortunately, now isn't the time to gather and meet.

All forms of social gatherings and interactions must be done carefully to limit exposure. So what does this mean for companies that want to appeal to potential employees? The answer is inventing new extras that set your workspace apart from the competition. Instead of appealing gatherings and social spaces, companies have started focusing on installing state of the art HVAC systems and air filters as extras.

These options are more in line with ensuring proper ventilation, which is essential in limiting new infections. Needless to say, the field is open to all sorts of inventions and companies will be keen to stumble across new ideas that can promote a safe work environment, at least until COVID is a thing of the past. The focus will remain on safety, convenience and comfort while trying to manage social interactions.

4. The Way We Collaborate Will Change

The Way We Collaborate Will Change

There's no doubt about the benefits of social gatherings and a "meeting of the minds." This is why open offices, break rooms and coffee bars were quite the appeal. We cannot abandon all gatherings as it is necessary for productivity. However, companies must develop new ways to gather without risking the personnel, considering stuffy conference rooms and round table meetings aren't viable from a safety standpoint.

Fortunately, there are various ways to conduct meetings and bring people together. Digital technologies and platforms can offer secure platforms where employees and managers can have meaningful on-screen discussions. The goal is to conduct regular gatherings to maintain a sense of togetherness. This also makes the gatherings less awkward and everyone will soon embrace them as a new option for official and non-official company meetings. It may require investing in remote meeting hardware and applications.

Managers will also have a vital role in involving all members and promoting transparent conversations to increase productivity, promote personal development and cement business continuity. The way we meet has already changed a lot because of social distancing. Annual gatherings and celebrations will take a very different shape if they are to be retained. However, managers must find solutions to ensure streamlined communication and company meetings. This may involve creating channels around employee interests to share ideas and build on them.

Interested in Updating Your Office to Reflect New Trends?

COVID has definitely changed the workplace and many are still adjusting to regain normal operations. What's certain is there will be a lasting evolution of the modern workspace even if the emerging vaccines successfully eliminate the threat of new infections. Amid the economic crisis and woes, office and workplace designers have been putting their minds to work. The goal is to create functional spaces that promote collaboration and productivity while protecting employees and managers from exposure.

Achieving this calls for a balance between the right technologies, hybrid workspaces, and flexible schedules. It is also essential to review your company to come up with customized solutions around your unique needs. Managers have been called to revise the usual way of doing things, whether it is simplifying workplace amenities or deploying remote communication and meeting software. However, the task requires patience as things keep changing fast.

Our team at Connecting Elements is here to help you through the design process for your workplace. Call 877-779-3409 to talk to an experienced specialist, or send us a note with any questions you have about your office.




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