COVID-19 and lockdown have offered an experiential opportunity to rethink working practices, and it looks like the days of working in the office 9-5 Monday to Friday are going to be a thing of the past, as remote and more flexible working become the ‘new norm’ for many.
As we head towards a new era of working, organisations and employers are having to reassess traditional office working and adapt to a more blended approach to improve employee work/life balances.
Here are 5 ways COVID-19 changed office working:
With many office workers being forced to work from home during the pandemic, most have adapted to the working from home culture, rediscovering a better work/life balance. Employees are proving that they can work effectively and efficiently from home most of the time, which will change the way businesses operate in the future.
Many are benefitting from no or shorter commutes and have more time to spend at home, particularly those with families that have been given more flexibility around school hours and school holidays, although long periods of home schooling have undoubtably been hard.
While some employees prefer to work from home, others, however, still crave to work in the office and companies still value the shared culture and stronger teamwork which emerges from co-working. On balance, we expect companies to allow more flexibility for employees to adopt hybrid patterns of working, leading to greater levels of productivity across an organisation.
- Virtual communication
Emerging technologies such as video conferencing have made working from home straightforward, as well as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), enabling office phone lines to operate from anywhere.
Business meetings are less likely to be face-to-face if a call can be done virtually. This will impact business travel as more people take to conference calls with international associates and clients rather than racking up the air miles. Organisations and consumers are also becoming more environmentally aware, so reduced air travel will have a positive impact on a company’s carbon footprint and the wider environment.
Certainly, for the foreseeable future, corporate training and conferences will adapt to a more blended approach, combining both virtual and face-to-face learning.
- Adapting office space
Businesses have had to adapt office spaces to the pandemic, implementing social distancing measures and guidelines such as wearing masks, reconfiguring offices, and installing screens between desks. Many adaptations in the workplace are likely to continue following the pandemic.
Some businesses have also realised that they no longer need large office spaces, particularly in city centres, and are down-sizing to incorporate a blended approach, offering employees the option of working in the office, from home or a mixture of both.
- Resurgence in local workspaces
As commuters have retreated from the city centres during lockdowns, local high streets and workspaces have experienced more demand from office workers switching to more local consumption and a desire to still work in a professional workstation rather than a bedroom or kitchen table. Pop-up and part-time offices have taken over from hotdesking as the preferred form of shared office space, with the added security of four walls and deep cleaning for COVID-19 protection.
- Relaxed workwear
With many office-based workers working from home for nearly a year, a more relaxed approach to workwear has emerged. Power suits could be a thing of the past as office workers have become more accustomed to dressing down for work. The ‘Zoom look’ is on trend, of a smarter top and jeans below and no one bats an eyelid at wearing fleeces in a work context anymore!
How the 3M BIC can help
At the 3M BIC, we can support businesses as they adapt to changes to office working with part-time offices, pop up offices, as well as a virtual membership offering a professional address for start-up businesses.
Get in touch today to find out more.