You’ve no doubt read many articles or watched numerous videos that start with “Things have changed…” or “The workplace will never be the same…”, and while that may be true, we all kind of want it to be the same, right?
Well maybe not everything, but when we think nostalgically about the workplace, we are not longing for commutes and cubicles, but we are hungry for culture and connection.
The novelty of working from home has disappeared quickly and “revealed that a distributed workforce spends more time staring into an endless stream of chat windows and less time connecting with the people in the boxes on the screen.”
Culture is why the workplace exists, and what differentiates great companies from drab ones.
There are 4 elements you can keep in mind to bring your office culture back to the workspace, while also keeping employees safe.
Your workspace must be able to adapt to changing needs. Employees have found comfort in working from home, and business leaders have found confidence in their worker’s ability to produce remotely.
Like your employees, and business operations, your workspaces must be flexible.
Most states are allowing employees to return, but almost all are asking companies to allow their employees to continue to work remotely if that is an option based on the work they are doing. Most states are also requiring a reduced capacity, either 25% or 50% (to start) with a phased in approach, and all are requiring 6 feet of space between each workspace.
Introduce modular and flexible furniture to your space ranging from soundproof curtains and room dividers to easy-to-move chairs with storage underneath.
Creating a flexible space, will encourage more interaction among employees, and prepare your space for scaling up to a full staff or for whatever may come next.
Ergonomics often gets overlooked but is increasingly important to employee well-being and restoring culture in your workspace.
Employees have spent the last few months working from whatever makeshift rigs they could put together. From kitchen tables, to ironing boards, people have been using anything and everything as a desk, even their best friends.
Just having a space that is all their own and doesn’t have to double as the arts and crafts table will be a welcome change for many employees.
Make desks flexible, perhaps ones that can transition from standing to sitting like the ones we’ve just finished installing for a customer:
Proper ergonomics will help employees feel they are back to “normal” and help promote a culture of well-being. Speaking of which:
Stress levels are higher than normal and providing a space for employees to escape a little bit can help foster a greater sense of well-being in the workspace.
Flexible, modular, ergonomic-friendly spaces go a long way, but there are additional elements as well.
Provide welcoming seating areas for brainstorming that can safely accommodate different numbers of people.
For example, a sofa with integrated small desk that can be easily moved when needed, and a small desk space is much easier to sanitize for the next user than an entire workstation or conference room.
Indoor air quality is also fundamental for well-being. HVAC regulations are starting to change in many states, and now is the ideal time to upgrade your systems to provide better air quality, and to do so with touch-less integration.
Plants give another helping hand in purifying indoor air and they’re also beneficial for employee health as a whole.
Last, but certainly not least, artificial lighting has a negative impact on well-being. Where possible, natural sunlight helps provide the highest levels of employee satisfaction. When natural light isn’t available, the newest lighting innovations take health and well-being into serious account. Next to light intensity, they allow customization for light color and temperature, for maximum comfort, all hands-free.
Technology is a fundamental element of modern offices, and this is not going to change. We’ve all been connected in different ways over the last few months, and some of those changes are going to be permanent. Facebook expects that about 50% of [its] workforce will work remotely within the next five to 10 years.
It is important to implement technology that will not only help business processes, but also help connect the percentage of the workforce that may not return to the traditional office.
Many companies already have dedicated video conference rooms to connect different teams across different locations to drive culture. This trend will only continue.
The return to work is coming and with it, some desperately needed office culture. There are many ways to help reinforce your culture through thoughtful strategy, architecture, engineering, and construction. If you are struggling for ideas, Infinity Group can help. Contact us today for a consultation.
Every organization’s culture is a little different, but I think we can all agree on three things:
1. There are only so many virtual meetings one can endure in a day
2. Most of our homes are not designed for full-time work, and
3. We miss each other, and our workspace