In the world of office environments, there is growing momentum towards agile working. The COVID-19 virus seems to have enforced some of these principles on your workforce already. They have had to move quickly to work differently, now experiencing maximum flexibility and minimum constraint. It’s not ideal but why not explore this concept in more detail and see what the opportunities might be.
The situation we find ourselves in has undoubtedly thrown up many challenges. Not least it has turned the relationship between our office and work environment upside down. Employees are either working from home or being asked to furlough. You now have the time to think about your options, maybe consider what will happen when we come out the other side
1. A traditional mindset of employers
Working from home is a hotly debated topic for employers. The dynamic of turning up to an office every day to work or being able to do the same job from home. It’s often easier to manage people if they come into the office – you know where they are and what they are doing.
In the current environment, this whole concept is being put to the test. You will find out if people can do their job effectively while working from home. Which means when you do come out the other side you may need to think a bit differently.
There are several areas you might want to think about. Starting with how you equip your staff going forward, providing equipment that makes them more mobile. Permanent desks in the office could be a thing of the past.
You could reconfigure your office using hot desks. With fewer people working at traditional desks you have the flexibility to move towards an agile working space by introducing touchdown points or social environments. There is already desk booking technology available to allow your staff to book their desks on the way to the office. It becomes less of a ‘trust’ issue in terms of people doing their jobs. You will focus more on the tools and creating the right environment for your staff to work more effectively.
2. Working from home is not for everyone
It can be easy to fall into the trap that we all want to work from home. The truth is many of us need social interaction and don’t want to feel isolated. But of course, it’s the job that will dictate where and how you work.
Maybe it’s time to think in more detail about the sort of activities you do as a business. Look at how you divide roles and responsibilities and what needs to be done.
-Specific project-based activity with an end goal versus regular ongoing work
-Cross-team working rather than in a specific area or team
-Managing stakeholders inside and outside the business
With a more detailed picture, you will have a deeper understanding of what you need from a resource perspective. Not just the skills and experience but where individuals can be located. Once you have this you can think about your office space and what you need to support people in doing their jobs. It will contribute to a motivated workforce who operate in the right environment for their needs.
3. The mental well-being of your employees
As already mentioned, there are many people who either need to work in an office environment or simply want social interaction. It’s an important factor when you are considering the mental health of your teams. The current situation of enforced home working could help you think about your workspace differently.
It's a work/life balance at the end of the day. You’re either in the office working or at home enjoying some downtime. But you can create this balance within the office environment. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, which is great when you consider how much of our lives are spent working.
As employers, you could think about introducing different spaces within the working environment. More relaxation and play areas where employees can enjoy some downtime. This can be designed within your existing space. The right layout, furniture and décor will achieve what you need, there is already a great range of collaborative and social space furniture on the market designed for this very purpose.
4. Recycle your office environment
If you are planning to make a change to your office environment, your existing furniture does not have to go to waste. This can be a barrier to change and the perception might be that it’s a hassle.
The truth is, it can be repurposed which in effect means recycled. There will be other businesses with different needs who maybe don’t have a huge budget to spend on furniture. This is a great option for them. Companies like us will arrange the pick-up of any furniture that is being repurposed. While delivery is part of the service, so you don’t have to worry about organising that either.
5. Opportunities to streamline your business
This is not about reducing your workforce. Think of it as an opportunity to rethink your office space. If you have reached the stage where you are comfortable with your staff working from home, you have some exciting options.
There are several ways you can change your office environment to make it more effective. That extra space is available because there are fewer people regularly in the office. Take a fresh look at the space you have and dare to think differently.
-Introduce more café style workspaces where staff can touchdown
-Expand your business and open a new division
-Sub-let part of your building and give yourself a new revenue stream
-Create a co-working space, a demand that is on the increase
-Downsize to a smaller building and reduce your overheads
Nobody could predict the pandemic we are currently experiencing. But it’s now about how we react to the situation and what happens on the other side. Think about this as a step-change in the way we view our working environments. If you embrace this, it will be a big opportunity for you.
Would you change how you work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, what would you do?