In the UK, we have become used to our socially distanced lives, and what was previously termed the ‘new normal’ is rapidly becoming, simply, ‘normal’. The ways we socialise, shop and work have undergone fundamental changes in the past few months, and even when the threat of the coronavirus has reduced, our world will be noticeably different to the way it was before.
This is particularly the case for office workers. They had been seeing gradual changes in office culture for a number of years anyway, and lockdown has enabled the pace of change to speed up. New technologies have allowed more and more people to embrace agile working practices, resulting in the growing popularity of serviced offices and co-working spaces. People are also influenced by companies like Google, which has been leading the way in providing a more playful office environment, with different themed areas that enable people to work wherever they feel the most comfortable and, therefore, be more productive.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has simply pushed the fast-forward button on the changing office landscape. It is now anticipated that 45% of office workers will continue to work flexibly, with many regularly spreading their time between the office and the home.
It is anticipated that offices will now be used more for team and client meetings. Office design will therefore be key to impressing clients as well as increasing productivity and staff loyalty.
The good news for companies is that with more staff working remotely, overheads will reduce. There will be more flexibility in terms of staff numbers, and with no need to provide a dedicated desk for every member of staff, a rise in employee numbers no longer needs to go hand in hand with an expensive move to larger premises.
With the move to remote working, companies can take advantage of technology such as hosted desktop solutions which will enable them to replace desktop computers with laptops. They will no longer need to have servers on the premises, and removing bulky equipment from the office will open up the space even more. Office design will become far more important, and we can create a range of solutions that will provide a great new look to impress and delight staff and clients alike.
In the short term, of course, implementing safety measures to keep office-based staff socially distanced is hugely important. Information and signage are necessary in order to create areas that keep people distanced, but that doesn’t mean to say they need to be boring! Areas can be indicated in a brighter and more cheerful way with large format printed wall and floor coverings as well as displays – in a similar way to designs we use in the retail, events and exhibitions sectors. Although it feels that we are a long way into the pandemic crisis, we are also aware of the fact that there’s still a long way to go – the inclusion of colour and high-quality images in the office will improve morale resulting in a greater resilience to deal with whatever lies ahead.