Coronavirus is changing how we work. Companies globally – such as Pinterest in San Francisco – are cancelling their leases and looking for smaller spaces. With the increasing popularity of “work-from-home” (WFH) policies, companies are reconsidering whether they need to offer every employee a fixed desk. Office managers are suddenly tasked with downsizing offices while also making them COVID-19-compliant.
We’ve all heard over the years how working from home not only boosts people’s productivity but also helps save money. According to a study by Stanford University, WFH employees experience an incredible boost in productivity. All while the company might save up to $2,000 a year per employee. Just by reducing the amount of office space and utilities needed.
Now with the coronavirus, many more employees have experienced the advantages of working from home first hand. They’ve realized that they not only reduce their time spent on the commute to work but also feel much more productive because they don’t get interrupted by noise or have someone walk up to their desk, interrupting their state of flow.
Now that we know most employees will choose to do their focused work from the comfort of their home or a local library that’s just a short walk away, office spaces gain a whole new meaning. In the future, offices won't become obsolete but will be used differently.
If you’re an office manager tasked with downsizing your company’s office, here’s a checklist to help you make decisions and solve the various riddles of changing up the office space to enable activity-based working.
The open floor plan might finally become outdated. Acoustically, it’s never been a good solution for people that needed to focus anyway.
In the future, people need more private spaces to more closely interact with their team members. It’s likely your future workspace will have to be set up with the following accommodations.
It must have been WeWork that first included tiny video conference rooms for one or two people. These tiny rooms were acoustically separated, yet felt approachable and friendly because of their glass doors. While the space was small, these phonebooth cubicles provided just the right amount of comfort and privacy for conversations – some of them were big enough for two people, some just had enough space for a worker and their laptop. This is the sort of space every company should consider implementing going forward.
While the technology for video calls is becoming better by the day, nothing beats the magic of people coming together in a room. The energy they bring into the space, their body language, simply “the people” is what’s making us want to work for the companies we choose. And so the future workspace will have a couple of meeting rooms and focused work stations that will enable people to work collaboratively with their chosen colleagues.
The common area will also become the inspiration area. It’s where companies will have the opportunity to give their employees a comfortable space to spend time together but also to educate themselves. When COVID-19 cases start to decrease, we’ll see people craving a sense of connection. For that, you’ll have to create a space that’s flexible and allows for private dinner parties, theme events, and larger team gatherings. This will also be the space you're happy to show clients, partners, or other external people coming to your office/workspace. This area has to be on brand and express what your brand stands for.
If you’re tasked with downsizing your current office space, make sure you analyze which furniture you’ll be able to reuse in the future and which furniture you’ll want to sell.
While your company might be downsizing, many individuals are looking to set up their ergonomic home offices and would be more than happy to get their hands on professional furniture. Yes, exactly the sort of furniture you might be looking to give away.
From a sustainability perspective, it’s always best to sell whatever you don’t find use for to someone in your local community. Platforms such as Craigslist, Ebay Kleinanzeigen, Willhaben, Marktplaats, or even various groups on Facebook connect people who want to sell with people who want to buy.
If you need to give up the different pieces fast, you can google (better yet, search on Ecosia) for companies that sell used office furniture and offer yours to them.
When you start over, it’s easier to establish new rituals and a more sustainable way of going about things. You can create new systems for trash disposal, hire alternative cleaning services, rethink your supply chain of drinks or even toilet paper. You’re suddenly free to decide if you want to compost, whether your fruit bowl features seasonal fruit only, and can even turn the leftover fruit into cocktails and mocktails every Friday afternoon. Of course, you can always do that, but it’s often easier to change things when moving. Seize the moment!
With a new office comes new opportunities to help your employees live more sustainably. And you’re in charge of empowering your company’s employees to make better, more sustainable choices, too. Ideally, you can also involve them in the planning even before you start deciding what furniture to keep and what to let go of. They might want to keep something for their personal use – such as their favorite chair, too.
With the rise of the zero waste movement, various companies are developing more sustainable solutions to problems such as – you guessed it – moving boxes. Look for “moving box rental” in your city and you’ll find companies such as Turtle Box, Uhaul, RentalCrates, RentGreenBox, etc. that will help you make your office move much more environmentally friendly.
Need help with all that? That's what we're here for: rethinking, recreating, and redoing spaces, visions, and people to create future-ready office spaces that are sustainable!