Thanks to growing vaccination rates and falling case counts nationwide, people are finally daring to dream about life in a post-COVID world. For many business owners, office managers and employees, that means making key decisions about what a transition back to the office looks like. Then COVID-19 pandemic challenged our assumptions about productivity, what we really need out of a brick-and-mortar commercial space, and how to strike the balance between focused solo work and effective team collaboration.
Traditional office environments aren’t dead, but they may need to be reimagined. Here are three things to consider when getting your team back into the office.
Slow and steady
In March of 2020, offices mobilized almost overnight to shift their workforces to remote environments. As we consider ways to optimize office-space for a post-COVID world, one thing is certain—this time, it won’t happen overnight.
For some, COVID-19 anxiety is still a present reality. After more than a year of social distancing, masking, sanitizing, and living on edge, it can be challenging for some to flip a switch and feel confident returning to pre-COVID habits, despite vaccination status. Employers should remain sensitive to the individual needs and comfort-levels of their team. This slow and steady approach to getting the team back together provides leaders with an opportunity to thoughtfully consider how the office’s physical space and culture can change and adapt for the benefit of the employees and the organization’s mission.
Downsizing may work for you
While many employees are eager to get back to a collaborative office environment, remote work and hybrid weekly schedules are here to stay in some way shape or form. Employee demand, cost-savings initiatives, and a simple evolution in long-held corporate traditions are driving business owners to shift the way they view their office schedules and brick-and-mortar commercial spaces.
For some, this may mean downsizing on commercial space. A mostly-remote or hybrid team diminishes the need for rows and rows of individual cubicles and work spaces. Depending on the availability of a smaller, more suitable office space in the current market, the long-term savings on overhead costs can be a no-brainer. If you have a small team who have found a good groove with effective remote collaboration, downsizing may work for you.
Optimize your current space
But for other organizations, it may mean using existing space more efficiently or even expanding commercial space. The ebb and flow of office traffic in a hybrid work culture means that commercial office spaces will still need to accommodate larger groups of staff members at least some of the time. And after more than a year of working from home, employees will be looking for an evolved office space that promotes aspects of workplace culture that can’t be found at home.
Focus on collaboration
Employees coming into the office a few days a week, or even every one in a while, will likely desire spaces to collaborate with colleagues. While your office may no longer need or want elbow-to-elbow conference rooms, those spaces can be transformed into group brainstorming spaces, complete with tech solutions that make it easy for virtual colleagues and clients to remain engaged with in-office conversations.
Even though it may technically be safe to gather, more than a year of strict social distancing is bound to change our comfort levels with office crowding. Optimizing your existing space to allow for wider hallways, spaced out desks and workstations, and office setups that promote proper air flow may help employees feel more comfortable and confident returning to the office.
Helping you find the right space
Not every company has to make drastic office-atmosphere changes post-pandemic, but it’s worthwhile for leadership to put some serious thought into what worked (and what didn’t) before the start of the pandemic. The best way to promote your employees’ productivity in an office-space is to implement policies to boost confidence and comfort post-pandemic. If you need help reimagining how your commercial space will work for your organization’s post-pandemic future, contact an NAI Mid-Michigan professional today. We can help you consider whether downsizing, upgrading or optimizing your commercial space can help your organization thrive post-pandemic.