While we are still a long, long way before getting the all-clear signal, there is reason to be (very) cautiously optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, and things will slowly start getting better in the months ahead. Better that is — but not necessarily “normal.”
Indeed, while some things will revert to their pre-pandemic familiarity, other things will find a new level. With respect to the latter category, here are five ways that the post-COVID workplace will likely look, feel and function differently:
More Hot Desking, Less Assigned Seating
To accommodate hybrid remote workers who will shift between their home office and the corporate office, we will see more hot desking and less assigned seating. For those unfamiliar with the term, hot-desking refers to a layout in which workstations are set up with basic staples (e.g. power/USB ports/phones, etc.), so that anyone can pluck themselves down, plug themselves in, and get to work. Think of it like a business center in a hotel or airport, but on a wider scale.
Wi-Fi Worthy of the Name
Virtually all organizations have offered employees Wi-Fi for several years. However, in some cases, connection speeds have been punishingly s-l-o-w; especially during peak times. Given the increase in hot-desking, organizations that have historically gotten away with less-than-great (or just plain awful) Wi-Fi will turn up the velocity — much to the delight of employees who can rapidly access apps and networks vs. sigh and shake their heads in frustration.
The Office Goes Outside
Prior to the pandemic, the spaces immediately located outside an office (front, sides and back) were typically neglected, or in some cases offered picnic tables or chairs for employees. On the post-pandemic landscape with a focus on physical distancing, these spaces are going to become much more important, and re-purposed as legitimate work areas to hold meetings, deliver presentations, meet with clients, and so on.
Ventilation Systems Have their Moment
Before the world added COVID-19 to its vocabulary, employees (including potential new hires) who inquired about a workplace’s ventilation system typically focused on comfort. That is, they wanted to avoid shivering in the winter and sweating in the summer. Those aspects are still important, but what will matter more in the months and years ahead is whether ventilation systems are doing a suitable job of scrubbing the air of pollutants and toxins, and generating a clean, healthy environment. Organizations that cannot boast a state-of-the-art ventilation system will need to remedy this, or face the consequences.
Open Offices Won’t Disappear — but They Won’t Stay the Same
Employees who dislike (or outright loathe) open office layouts will, unfortunately, find that the post-pandemic workplace still has elements of this approach. However, the design will be markedly different in order to establish physical distancing and traffic flows, as well as enhance air circulation and ventilation.
More Natural Lighting and Plants
In an effort to make workplaces healthier — not just with respect to physical health, but mental health as well — we will see more natural lighting and plants; everything from aglaonema (a.k.a. Chinese evergreens) to zamioculcas zamiifolia.
Expanding into Satellite Offices
Instead of just having a centralized HQ, organizations will open up satellite offices that cut down commuting time for their hybrid workers, and at the same time dramatically reduce real estate and commercial operating costs. HQs will still exist, but they will likely be smaller both in physical size and staffing levels.
There is no crystal ball or magic mirror that reveals what the future has in store. Heck, after a year like 2020, most people wisely don’t look ahead more than a few weeks. Yet amidst this unprecedented uncertainty, it is a very safe bet that all of the above themes and trends will shape the post-pandemic workplace — and hopefully give us more reasons to cheer than to complain.
Do you have a question about managing the post-Covid 19 workplaces? Ask the experts at Pivotal HR Solutions: