The COVID-19 pandemic has reawakened us to the reality that humans are indeed social animals. Working from home has temporarily become the norm, but for most, there is something odd about it. Rather than being a participant in life, we feel as though we are simply observers watching from the sidelines. The lack of personal contact limits the creative spontaneity that often takes place in a communal work environment. Taking a break from work life becomes difficult, and conversely, enjoyment of personal life suffers when the fine line between the two are blurred. Most recently, numerous tech giants have announced their intention to allow their staff to work remotely for the foreseeable future. The rising popularity of interactive video conferencing platforms have allowed networks to stay connected in this new reality of social and physical distancing. However, it is certainly not a long term solution to social interaction in the workplace.
Innovative business owners should be taking the time now to look ahead to when their teams will be returning to the common workplace and ask themselves what they can do to create a more dynamic work environment. Although it is anyone’s guess as to when that may happen, it will eventually happen assuming a vaccine is developed and made available to the public.
How do you measure the importance of the physical work environment to a business? Certainly the type of work, compensation and management style of leaders all play a role in how creative, productive and fulfilled a team member is in the workplace. However, there is no doubt that the qualities of a physical office contribute to the success of competitive firms.
Dynamic work environments have a number of commonalities that attract dynamic people; those that are creative and ambitious. They are meticulously designed to represent the unique characteristics of the company. We believe the most valuable characteristic in office design is allowing for adaptability. The thought, planning and creativity that goes into designing each space makes them unique and exceptional. Attributes such as material choice, lighting, spatial integration, colour and texture come together to create a harmonious and dynamic built environment. Some individuals thrive and enjoy working in an open concept environment, while others value privacy. There should be spaces dedicated to collaboration where spontaneous conversation such as at a coffee bar become important touch down areas. There should be areas provided for individuals to perform quiet, focused tasks. Meeting spaces that can accommodate large groups of people should be technologically equipped for visual presentations and video conferencing. The modern work environment should allow people to select the type of workspace, within reason, that best suits their needs. The one-size-fits-all concept is a thing of the past.
COVID-19 has taught us that people do thrive on social interaction, whether it is in the workplace or through leisure activities. As the costs of real estate rises, it is important to consider the way spaces are designed so that there is value for adaptability and future growth. There are many new and exciting opportunities for business entrepreneurs who are looking ahead to the post-pandemic experience.