Prior to the pandemic, roughly 50-60% of office space was occupied on any given day. Not only was that a waste of real estate—and revenue—it underscored the fact that these spaces weren’t designed to support the way people actually work. Flexible office spaces provided a solution for that exact problem, but in recent years, they remained an alternative more than the norm. But now, as companies across the globe continue to operate remotely, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the future of office space will require some thoughtful reimagining.
On a recent episode of the podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat, we spoke with host Bruce Daisley about our predictions for the future of workplaces, including the importance of both physical offices and remote equity. Read on for five key takeaways from the conversation and click here to listen to the full episode.
1. A Smaller Office Footprint
Going forward, we will see a smaller office space footprint in line with decreasing demand, but it won’t disappear. Maintaining a physical office, whether that be in a flexible office space or otherwise, will remain essential to team collaboration and connectivity, particularly as organizations adopt remote and hybrid models.
2. The Future Will Be Hybrid
The future of work will be hybrid, and our offices will be too. While we predict a return to the office once safely possible, we see a significant shift toward hybrid models where the majority of team members are accessing a space two to three days a week, some are working onsite full-time, and others are working remotely full-time. This shift will require that companies establish remote equity so team members working elsewhere still feel connected to their headquarters and vice-versa. By designing offices that accommodate this hybrid work style, organizations will be able to support that equity in their physical office, and devise a more engaging, inclusive environment overall.
3. Reinvesting in People, Amenities & Culture
A decrease in fixed real estate will allow organizations to reinvest in people programs and in-office experiences. As office space will be seen as more of a resource than a requirement, our relationship to these physical locations will become more of a pull rather than a push. And with that will come an added layer of hospitality, which will help create a high-touch experience at the office.
4. Events Will Remain Essential
Particularly after so much time apart, events and meetings will become more important than ever before. These gatherings have always been a necessary platform for connection and teambuilding, but as organizations embrace remote and hybrid models, it will be crucial that they continue to bring everyone together—even virtually. By including a virtual component in your organization’s meeting strategy, you can ensure that remote employees can participate equally in all company-wide affairs.
5. Collaboration Will Inspire Design & Management
Traditional offices dedicated the majority of their space to workstations. But we now know that much of that work can be done from anywhere. With that in mind, office space will be reconceptualized to support a mix of on-site and virtual interaction, and prioritize in-person meetings. Rather than a one person-one desk model, it will look and feel more fluid, and reflect the flexibility of today’s work style. This emphasis on group productivity and hybrid work will also influence a shift in management techniques. Though line-of-sight management was once the primary model used to evaluate productivity, a greater reliance on remote work will require managers to embrace new tactics and tools. And as teams continue to collaborate virtually, more tools will be devised to help manage productivity.
Though we’ve experienced dramatic changes in the workplace over the last year, we know there is still a lot of innovation to come. With a combination of technology, updated people policies, and hospitality, organizations will be able to create the flexible offices needed for our modern world. And while things will certainly continue to evolve over time, one thing remains clear: hybrid work is here to stay.