At the start of this pandemic, there was much talk about how it would change when, where and how we worked. There were claims that the traditional office could be a thing of the past as more employees started to work from home –and liked it.
Four months later and it appears that the demise of the office is not going to happen any time soon. A recent survey commissioned by the British Council for Offices(BCO), found that just one in five UK adults plans primarily to work from home in the future, while only 16% hope that working from home replaces the office. The survey, which polled 2,000 adults nationwide, found that 38% do not plan to work from home at all. Meanwhile, more than a quarter (27%) plan to work from home for less than half of the working week, or on an ad hoc basis.
It is clear from the survey that employees are clearly missing the office. Whether it’s socialising with colleagues, improved collaboration or just getting away from the house, the office is still going to play a big part in our working lives.
Feeling safe at work
We know that employees want to return to work but we also know that they are nervous about the safety of the office in relation to Covid-19. A survey conducted by Bupa Health Clinics revealed that 65% of people in the UK are anxious about returning to the office.
With employees feeling concerned about social distancing in overcrowded office spaces and adequate hygiene, what can employers do to address these issues and allow staff to feel safe and comfortable to return to their workplace?
The birth of the new office
Could it be that this research and the current situation actually presents employers with an opportunity to change the way their employees work –for the better?
Over the past few decades, open-plan offices have become increasingly popular. The thought that open-plan offices allow for more collaboration and innovation and breaks down barriers between senior management and their teams has fueled the growth. The reality, however, is that the vast amount of employees hate them. They’re distracting. They’re loud. They offer little privacy and, as we’ve seen recently, they offer little defense against the spread of infection.
Is it therefore time to ditch the open-plan office and find a new way or working?
If we need to change workplaces to adhere to social distancing guidance and allow employees to feel safe and comfortable, doesn’t it make sense that we change them for the better and future proof their design?
Activity-based working caters to the needs and working styles of different employees. An activity-based working environment features multiple working areas, designed around different activities. They support flexibility and mobility and the prediction is that activity-based working is the future of the workplace.
Examples of activity-based working includes:
•Small focus rooms
The benefits of activity-based working
Evidence shows that activity-based working increases productivity. By allowing people to choose the environment that best suits the task in hand, employees are likely to achieve more. Whether it’s allowing them a quiet space to work, somewhere a little less formal, or somewhere where they can comfortably collaborate with team members–the right space for the right job can make all the difference.
Decreased business costs
Surprisingly, adopting activity-based working can reduce overheads. By allowing greater flexibility and mobility you can reduce the space needed –reducing real estate costs and operational expenses.
Increased employee well-being
Allowing employees to select the type of workspace they use gives them more control over their work environment which leads to a higher level of job satisfaction and well-being. Companies that have adopted activity-based working have reported a decrease in absenteeism and a reduction is staff turnover. It’s a win-win.
Increased safety and confidence
By zoning and redesigning your office space, you can take into consideration social distancing and hygiene factors, giving employees the piece of mind and confidence to return to work. Safety screens can be easily installed and a less open-plan workplace reduces the impact of an outbreak.
Will activity-based working work for me?
By working with you to analyse what your employees do and how they use the space, we can help design a space that benefits you, your business and your employees.