What COVID Means for the Future of Offices
January 19, 2021 AD&V
Rendering of AD&V Office Library.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR |  AD&V® is dedicated to advanced and energy-efficient sustainable architecture & interior design that enhances people’s experience of the world and improves their lives.

COVID-19 has forever changed the way we work, and how we behave and interact in spaces.

Because of these changes, business owners have had to rethink their real estate, and how their employees will continue to work, while staying safe.

Here’s what COVID means for the future of offices:

1. AMPLE SPACES

While a lot of work can and will be done from  anywhere, the office continues to bear relevance as employees crave social interactions and boundaries from home responsibilities. That said, offices will need larger spaces in order for employees to maintain social distancing.

This means larger spaces with flexible working areas and open break/lunch spaces. COVID-19 only magnified our need for redefining our priorities since our team continues to grow. One of the main reasons we recently decided to relocate our main headquarters to a much more flexible and larger space, was to make sure we could provide spaces to collaborate, work comfortably and maintain distance in order to keep our team safe.

2. MORE VIRTUAL MEETINGS

Virtual meetings are still going to be held over in-person meetings. Now that Zoom and other online meeting platforms have gone mainstream, these will continue to take place. Offices will need to be equipped and tech ready to allow employees to participate in virtual meetings and events. In our new office headquarters, we installed video cameras in the conference rooms so that our team members can easily have virtual meetings with clients. We also have the technology in place to give visual presentations and show our clients project models.

3. OUTSIDE AREAS

Employers will look to create spaces for their team outside. Outdoor spaces for eating, in-person meetings, and office events will be designed to help keep your team safe while also boosting the team’s productivity. Connecting with the natural environment helps recharge us and regenerate our minds and bodies.

4. CONTINUED REMOTE WORK

More and more businesses will continue to invest in the necessary technologies in order for their employees to be able to keep working remotely. When the lockdown began, we invested in the right technologies for our team to be able to work from home. We provided the team with the necessary software, computers, and cellphones for them to be able do their work from anywhere and succeed. Now, many businesses are doing the same.

5. TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT

Companies will make technology support available to every employee by having a dedicated team assigned exclusively to assisting in potential technology issues. Facilitating technology support will increase team morale by decreasing frustrations and tech issues that will inevitably arise. This allows team members to focus on the work, instead of wasting productive time looking for solutions to technological problems.

6. CYBER SECURITY

Unfortunately, the more businesses rely on technologies, the more vulnerable company data becomes to cyber-attacks. Even the International Associate of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM), warned government agencies and businesses about the risks involved with allowing employees to work from home without secure devices. This is why companies need to have strong and reliable cyber security. For example, we make sure our server, software, and operating systems are monitored and secured with an updated and strong antivirus.

7. VIRTUAL OFFICE CULTURE

Since many employees are working remotely, efforts need to be made in order to keep the team engaged and connected to one another. Virtual office culture brings the team together and helps them stay connected to each other, even if it’s online. That’s why we do weekly virtual team meetings, and virtual team building activities like happy hours and playing Drawasaurus.

8. STAYNG HEALTHY

Businesses will continue to comply with CDC workplace guidelines in order to keep their employees healthy and safe. As the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate, expect to see more offices with permanent sanitation areas, branded safety kits, no-touch infrared thermometers, plus stations for employees to recycle masks and gloves. At our offices we installed protective separators at the desks for extra protection.

9. FLEXIBLE WORK HOURS

More companies will continue to allow their employees to have flexible work hours. By focusing on outputs rather than inputs, flexible working hours encourage a culture of accountability and teamwork. We do this with our team to encourage work/life balance that doesn’t sacrifice their personal lives.

10. MORE COMMUNICATION

With employees working remotely, communication can become challenging. That’s why consistent communication will be essential to managing employees remotely. It’s important for companies to frequently check in with team members and project teams through chats, message postings, calls or video conferences to talk about work progress and  answer questions.

11. ONLINE FEEDBACK

Similarly, businesses will be taking more time to listen to their employees’ feedback and suggestions in order to solve and address any questions, problems, or concerns that team members may have. We send out regular surveys and questionnaires to our team to helps us understand and help with some of the challenges our employees may be facing while working remotely, and to make the improvements we need to keep working successfully.

12. INCREASED SUSTAINABLE MEASURES

COVID-19 has shown companies the direct impact our collective actions have on the environment. Remote work and virtual meetings for example, have helped lower carbon emissions and air pollution globally. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that businesses are taking sustainable measures more seriously and into account when designing their offices.

Our new office headquarters will continue to promote a healthy environment for our team and planet by using natural lighting, conserving energy, and minimizing waste.

13. STRONGER FOCUS ON WELLNESS

With all that has happened in 2020, businesses have taken notice on how important their employee’s mental health and overall wellness is. Expect to see more companies providing employees with virtual work out classes of their choosing and online workshops for mental health like mindfulness and meditation. If employees are feeling healthy and well, they will feel part of a larger calling, be more comfortable and produce better work!

Current events resulting from the pandemic have forced businesses to change how they operate both inside and outside of the office. Companies have realized that business survival depends on the implementation of effective tools that allow teams to continue to work remotely while also focusing on keeping their employees healthy and safe. Even though 2020 has been a challenging and difficult year for all businesses, it has made us rethink how to better our team and company. This has made businesses more resilient and stronger for the future ahead.

FURTHER READING: ÁLVAREZ-DÍAZ & VILLALÓN IS MOVING!

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