The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed how businesses operate, with remote work becoming the norm for many. However, as the world slowly returns to normal, many companies are now beginning to bring their employees back into the office.
Despite this, the traditional nine-to-five, five-days-per-week-in-the-office model isn’t the only option available. Many companies are now embracing a more flexible work model, allowing their employees to work from home, the office, or a combination of both.
But what does this growing trend toward flexible work arrangements mean for the office space of the future? And what are employees looking for in terms of flexibility and workspaces?
In this article, we’ll unpack how office spaces have changed and what we can expect from the workspaces of tomorrow.
Rolling out of bed. Working in your pajamas. Taking a nap during your lunch break.
Sounds pretty good, right? As many of us have experienced firsthand, working from the comfort of your own home has its perks.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In addition to increased distractions and blurred work-life boundaries, loneliness often plagues remote workers.
Workplace loneliness is nothing new, but it’s certainly been exacerbated by working from home during the pandemic. An estimated 72% of global workers experience workplace loneliness monthly as of 2022.
Without the daily interactions that come with being in an office or coworking space, it’s easy to feel isolated and disconnected from the world.
Even if you’re not a social butterfly, interaction with others is an essential part of our lives. Humans are inherently social animals and have thus evolved to thrive in social environments.
And as we engage in shared activities in the workplace, our interactions with coworkers can provide a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.
Not having regular social interactions can have numerous negative effects on our physical, mental, and cognitive health. Studies have continuously shown that lonely individuals are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality.
Additionally, the American Heart Association found that social isolation and loneliness are associated with about a 30% increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
But it’s not just the cost of employees’ well-being. Loneliness has financial repercussions, too. Lonely workers say they are less engaged and productive, and they also report lower retention rates. At a national level, loneliness can cost the US economy over $406 billion a year.
It seems those water cooler chats and after-work drinks can make all the difference.
In addition to regular social interactions, physical workspaces offer unique advantages that can’t be replicated in a virtual environment. Let’s explore some reasons why offices remain critical for companies and their employees and the value these workspaces bring.
Physical workspaces help employees foster relationships with their colleagues. This is essential for building trust, improving collaboration, and creating a sense of belonging and community.
When you see your coworkers every day, you naturally develop a rapport with them. Whether it’s chatting about non-work-related topics or grabbing lunch together, these day-to-day activities strengthen your bond and make you feel more connected as a team.
The right workspace design should include shared physical spaces where people can gather and interact. Common areas such as kitchens, lounges, and meeting rooms can encourage collaboration, socialization, and networking.
Face-to-face interactions are more effective than virtual ones. There’s just something about being in the same physical space as someone that can’t be replicated online.
Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice carry a lot of meaning, which can get lost in translation via online communication. Working in a physical office helps you communicate in a more natural — not to mention more immediate — way.
For example, if you have a question or need help with something, you can walk over to your coworker’s desk and ask them. This kind of communication can be more efficient than sending an email or instant message and waiting for a response.
Working in an office setting free from distractions can improve productivity.
With a designated workspace that is separate from the home environment, employees can mentally switch into “work mode” and minimize distractions. Leaving behind their household chores, pets, and other potential distractions helps them dedicate their full attention to their work.
Working in an office can also provide access to tools and resources that may not be available in a home office, such as software and specialized equipment. For example, ergonomic furniture can help prevent injuries and reduce fatigue, which can lead to increased productivity.
In their review of 250 ergonomics case studies, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries found a 25% increase in productivity from implementing ergonomic solutions at work.
The right physical workspaces provide employees with a space to collaborate and share ideas, which is essential for creativity and innovation. In turn, a positive company culture can lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention, which can help companies attract and retain top talent.
A designated physical workspace can help establish boundaries between work and home life. It can be tempting to use a couch or bed when working from home, making it difficult to mentally separate work from leisure time.
However, when you work in an office, the physical separation between your work and home life is clear.
Traveling to a physical office space can also help establish a routine. When you work from home, it can be tempting to procrastinate or put off work until later in the day.
However, when you have a designated office to go to, you are more likely to establish a routine and stick to it. This can be beneficial for your productivity, mental health, and stress level.
Being in a physical office can provide unique opportunities for hands-on learning that simply cannot be replicated online. While online training has its perks, face-to-face training sessions can be more interactive and engaging than online sessions.
In-person trainers can provide hands-on demonstrations, answer questions in real time, and facilitate group discussions. This kind of personalized attention can make all the difference when it comes to grasping new concepts and skills.
What’s more, physical offices provide access to resources that employees may not be able to benefit from at home, such as research materials, libraries, and new technologies. With access to these resources, employees can develop valuable skills to take on new responsibilities and advance their careers as a result.
Working from a physical office undoubtedly has its advantages. However, doing this five days a week is not the only viable option. The office space of the future embodies the best of both worlds, blending the advantages of working at a physical office with the flexibility that remote work provides.
As various options for places to work emerge, so do different working models to choose from. To better understand these models, let’s examine the distinctions between three popular approaches.
This approach combines remote work with in-office work. Employees who work using a hybrid model may split their time between working remotely and coming into the office either on specific days or to complete specific tasks..
In a flexible working model, employees have greater control over when, where, and how they work. This approach may include remote work, but it also allows for other options, such as flexible schedules and reduced work hours. This approach can be tailored to meet the needs of individual employees, helping them balance their work with other responsibilities.
In a decentralized working model, employees work from multiple locations, and there is no central physical office or headquarters. This approach allows for more geographical flexibility; however, it may require additional coordination and communication to ensure that work is completed effectively and efficiently.
But it’s not just employees — employers are only too happy to support calls for a reimagined workspace, as there are many benefits to the hybrid workplace model. Decreased costs for office space, enhanced employee productivity, and access to more talent are just a few of these benefits.
Of course, implementing the hybrid model comes with an extra layer of management complexity. But there are plenty of hybrid software solutions that simplify the entire process.
Demands for a hybrid working model tell us something important: both employers and employees are open-minded about how and where work gets done (and done best).
If you’re interested in exploring the hybrid workplace management topic further, check out our Guide to Building a Sustainable Hybrid Workplace Model.
Corporations have already started shifting from traditional to flexible offices. Some companies have also been considering renting small regional offices and desks in coworking spaces that are located close to their employees’ homes.
Such decentralization of the workspace is rapidly growing in popularity – receiving the name ‘hub and spoke.’ The hub and spoke workspace model is the ultimate hybrid combination of a centralized office location, regional workspaces, and a home office.
From an employee perspective, this decentralized workspace model provides the flexibility to work from home. At the same time, this model gives them access to a proper work environment that’s close to home.
It also creates the opportunity to collaborate with peers who live nearby and have social interactions with other people.
From a business perspective, this can lead to fewer costs – instead of renting a huge office space downtown, office space costs can be distributed over several workspaces in less expensive areas.
With a growing preference for remote work, businesses must embrace change and adapt to this new reality to remain competitive and successful.
Consider implementing the following strategies to create an office space that meets the demands of the modern workforce.
Technology is a critical component of the modern workplace. Companies that invest in the latest technologies can empower their employees to work efficiently and effectively, regardless of their location.
Whether it’s video conferencing to collaboration tools, the right solutions can make all the difference in your hybrid team. OfficeRnD is a comprehensive platform designed to enable landlords, operators, and companies to manage flexible and hybrid workplaces more efficiently. From desk scheduling to automated billing and payments, our powerful platform helps you manage hybrid office spaces with ease.
Check out the video below that showcases our hybrid work management platform, OfficeRnD Hybrid:
Every employee works differently, so it’s important to consider the unique needs of each person. Some people need absolute silence to work efficiently, while others thrive off music and background noise.
To cater to everyone on your team, your office space should feature a variety of work environments, from quiet private spaces to collaborative, open ones. Create spaces that can be easily reconfigured to suit different tasks or work styles. This can include movable walls, modular furniture, or versatile lighting.
Also, consider each employee’s situation. A parent with a toddler might prefer to work from home more often. Some employees may prefer starting and ending work later than your typical nine to five.
Prioritizing flexibility in the workplace can increase employee satisfaction and productivity, leading to a more positive and successful team dynamic.
To harness the power of your teams’ innovative ideas, design a workspace that promotes creativity.
For example, color and light can have a big impact on mood and creativity. Consider incorporating bright, bold colors or unique lighting fixtures to add interest and energy to the space.
Provide collaborative spaces specifically designed for group work, like shared tables or brainstorming areas. Use the office space itself as a canvas for creativity. Display artwork or other creative employee projects to inspire others and establish a sense of community.
Employees who have access to comfortable and well-equipped workspaces are more likely to stay productive and focused. Standing desks, lounge areas, and healthy snacks can all help create a work environment that promotes productivity.
It’s important to ensure that all employees have access to the same amenities, regardless of whether they work in the office or at home. Providing the same benefits to everyone ensures equity and shows that you value your employees’ decisions to work at home or in the office.
Offering a range of amenities can also be a powerful recruiting tool, especially for younger workers who value their work-life balance and well-being highly.
With the rise of remote work and flexible schedules, many companies are finding that they don’t need as much physical space as they once did.
While downsizing to a smaller space can lead to potential cost savings, it’s still important to offer enough physical office space so that your in-office employees can enjoy the benefits it provides.
Hot desking is an excellent option due to its flexibility and efficient use of space. In addition to being cost-effective, this flexible workplace system can facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among employees who might not otherwise interact.
Adopting a hybrid workplace model can help companies tap into the advantages of both physical and remote workspaces, resulting in a more productive and engaged workforce.
It’s clear that creating a productive workplace involves more than just providing a desk and computer. Just as working models are changing, so are employees’ demands.
When employees do choose to come into the office, they’re looking for certain features. These include the following:
Long hours at work can be stressful, so employees want spaces where they can take a break and recharge. This could be a quiet corner, a meditation room, or even a games room.
The meditation chambers at the Google and YouTube headquarters in San Francisco are a unique example of spaces created for corporate meditation. The Immersive Spaces Series comprises five meditation “pods” that allow employees to detach themselves from the physical and mental demands of the workspace. These chambers are equipped with cutting-edge designs and lighting that soothe the senses and give employees a chance to contemplate and rejuvenate at any point during the workday.
Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for long periods can cause back and neck pain, which can lead to lower productivity and absenteeism. Ergonomic chairs, on the other hand, can reduce musculoskeletal pain and improve focus and productivity as a result.
Lighting can significantly impact employee well-being and productivity. Poor lighting can make it difficult to read documents, see computer screens, and concentrate on tasks. It can also cause eye strain, headaches, and fatigue, which often reduce productivity.
The lighting in a workplace can also influence our circadian rhythms, which can lead to sleep disturbances and other health issues. Because our bodies respond to light as a signal to be awake, proper lighting can reduce drowsiness, improve alertness, and, ultimately, reduce workplace errors.
Many employees care about the environment and want their workplace to reflect that. In fact, around 70% of employees say a sustainability program makes an employer more appealing.
Sustainability practices such as using renewable energy sources, reducing waste, and recycling can make employees feel good about where they work and increase their engagement in the company.
Employees are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of working in an environment with clean air. One survey revealed that 72% of office workers worldwide worry about air quality in their office buildings, yet only 15% receive regular updates.
Poor air quality can cause headaches, fatigue, and other health problems, making it difficult for employees to concentrate and be productive. Providing clean, well-ventilated air can help employees stay healthy and alert, improving their overall well-being and performance.
Employees need to feel safe and secure in their workplace. This includes physical security, such as access control and surveillance, as well as personal privacy, such as data protection and private workspaces.
According to one survey, 84% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about the privacy and safety of their personal data.
Companies are recognizing the value employees place on their privacy, which is why many are investing in sophisticated technology to protect the personal data of both their employees and customers.
There’s a growing demand for working close to home. According to IWG, the demand for suburban coworking spaces has increased during the last months.
While there’s a 30% decay in deals for their downtown locations in New York, they observed a 40% increase in the demand for their locations in the suburbs.
The increase in demand for suburban coworking spaces may be a sign of a broader trend toward more flexible and decentralized working arrangements. As technology continues to enable remote work, we may see more companies embracing these models in the future.
Centralized office locations and rigid working conditions are a thing of the past. Instead, decentralization and flexibility, a hybrid way of working, are shaping the future.
Managing hybrid workspaces comes with challenges, from disrupted work processes to issues coordinating teams. At OfficeRnD, we appreciate the difficulties that come with the office space of the future. That’s why we’ve designed a suite of flexible workspace tools to help you manage your hybrid and flexible workplaces with ease.
If you’re curious to learn how OfficeRnD can help you run your flexible and hybrid workplaces, book a live demo with our team of workplace experts.
The office space of the future is set to be more flexible, with remote work and flexible schedules becoming increasingly popular. Offices will likely be designed to accommodate a mix of in-person and virtual collaboration, with more open spaces and fewer individual workstations. There may also be a greater focus on wellness and sustainability, with offices designed to promote employee health and environmental sustainability.
Coworking spaces have certainly gained popularity in recent years and are seen by some as the future of office space. They offer a flexible and collaborative environment that is well-suited to the needs of freelancers, startups, and small businesses.
Coworking spaces can also provide access to a range of amenities, such as high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and event spaces, that might be too expensive for smaller companies to provide on their own.
Creative office space is designed to inspire innovation and collaboration among employees. It should have an open and flexible layout and use color and design elements to create a stimulating environment. Informal meeting spaces such as couches and lounge areas can encourage spontaneous interactions and collaboration.
Other features that can contribute to a more creative office space include customizable workstations, interactive whiteboards, and access to the latest technologies.
A futuristic office is a workplace that incorporates advanced technology and design to create a cutting-edge and productive environment. This can include features such as smart building systems and virtual reality tools.
To get the most out of your office space, you should create an environment that prioritizes employees’ well-being and productivity by including things like natural light, ergonomic furniture, and communal workspaces.
In a modern office space, traditional cubicles are replaced with open workstations that promote interaction and communication among employees.
This type of workspace also has communal areas, like lounge spaces and kitchen areas, to facilitate collaboration and socialization. Other key features of modern office spaces include sustainable and eco-friendly materials and customizable workstations that allow employees to personalize their workspace.
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