The Covid-19 pandemic gives us a glimpse of how offices and workspaces will look in the future. Earlier this year, offices were forced to close which results in employees having to work from home. At the same time, employees discover new norms when working at home that might determine how the office is structured when it is opened again. This mainly revolves around employee centricity, flexibility, and productivity. In order to know how to reorganize the future of the workplace, it is important to understand what employees think what the future of “work” will look like and what they demand the most.
According to the research conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), where they surveyed over 2,000 office workers in 10 countries, employees prefer to work in a hybrid setting where they can balance between working from home and at the office. With that said, flexibility is what they look for in the long run. Employees realized they can still be productive at home, but are not sure whether to relocate their workplace completely. This can be proven as 80% of high performing employees missed being in an office environment during the lockdown. Another important thing to note is that there are highly advanced workplace technologies being introduced every year that provide numerous benefits for employees that they shouldn't miss out. Thus, employees want to still have the option to both work at home or on-site and utilize the resources.
Other than having the freedom to choose, employees also value the social and mental benefit they receive once they work at the office. Human interaction, relationship building, and having the sense of belonging are integral aspects of the working culture. The survey indicates that 70% of employees feel like being in an office setting is more suitable for team building and managerial support. Collaboration is more streamlined when people are in the same place, and managers can guide the team better when they are right next to employees the whole time. Although there are communication softwares that can support interaction with colleagues, it is not enough to compensate the face-to-face engagement employees have in the office.
With that said, employees believe that office buildings should be adjusted to be more human-centric in the future. The work culture will be more flexible. Employees do not have to come full-time to the office but instead go there once or twice per week, since they also value working from home. The workplace itself will be hybrid that facilitates human interaction, since it is the motivation for employees to return to the office. This means that buildings should have more common areas, including coffee spots and lounges for employees to socialise and build connections. Introducing “nature” areas in the building can also enhance employees' experience on-site, such as having plants and gardens in the office area. In addition, the building should be structured in a way where employees can use multiple facilities at the same time, such as meeting rooms and pods to facilitate discussion with teams and managers. This also increases employee’s experience at the office since it stops them from being in the same room/desk for the whole day.
With these adjustments, offices can facilitate employees when they return to the office. The main premise to remember is that due to the lockdown, it shows that employees can be productive at home and on-site. Thus, offices should be reshaped accordingly and provide the benefits of working on-site. When the building itself fits the needs of the employees, they can feel more comfortable returning to the office. Employees will now have two suitable places to work. In the long run, this can also benefit their mental health and productivity with their assignment. Thus, it's a win-win situation for everyone.