Josefine Mordenfeld, Coor’s workplace strategist for developing the workplaces of tomorrow, gives her view of what companies need to do to take the next step into the future.
“Many companies have introduced short-term adaptations, and now need to review their long-term workplace strategy.
Three key trends
Many social trends are accelerating in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in the workplace. Over the past three months, several interesting studies, articles and events about how the pandemic is changing society, the environment and the workplace have emerged. At Coor, we are also receiving “real-life reports” from the hundreds of companies we deliver FM services to. The pandemic will have a sustained impact on workplaces, and we see three clear trends: more remote working, experience-based workplaces and a sharper focus on well-being.
Working from home has been a key recommendation around the world, and has quickly become the norm for many people.
“Studies suggest that the workplace of the future will involve working remotely and from home more, where an average of 2 days a week is likely to become the new normal for most of us. The growth in working remotely increases the need for flexibility, both from employees and businesses. This affects many areas, such as the physical office design and company leadership. For example, there needs to be good facilities for digital meetings in ergonomic workspaces for meetings with colleagues and customers who are also working remotely.
However, the experience of working from home varies depending on age group, work tasks and whether the employee has access to a dedicated workspace or not. Those with highly varied tasks and who do not have access to a dedicated workspace appear to dislike working from home the most. The age group that misses the physical workspace the most seems to be the younger generation, generation Z. Working from home is not ideal for everyone, and it is important to take this into account when designing the office of the future.
The trend towards experience-based workspaces means that the office of the future will be designed with experience and feelings in mind in order to attract employees, build corporate culture and encourage informal and creative meetings.
“Companies have been heading in this direction for some time,” Josefine explains, but the trend is accelerating post-Covid-19 as insight grows regarding what activities are best carried out in the workplace, and the value of the office as a culture carrier and arena for human meetings. For this reason, companies need to allocate more energy and resources to nudge employees to choose the office by providing functionality, an attractive environment and experiences. To improve the experience of being in the office, some companies are redesigning parts of the space to resemble modern concept cafés, or creating a hotel lobby atmosphere with lounge music, for example. Others use parts of the office to create spa-like rooms for recovery, or games corners for fun and energizing breaks.
Finally, the pandemic has fueled the debate about well-being in the workplace. This trend has been accelerating for some time, but has now found its way to the top of the agenda.
“We are seeing an increased focus on safety, where our services in cleaning and security play an increasingly important role, but we are also seeing growing demand and a sharper focus on solutions that improve employees’ physical, social and mental well-being amongst our larger customers,” Josefine explains.
In terms of the workplace, the focus is on ensuring that the physical environment supports employee well-being, and factors such as indoor climate, lighting, ergonomics and social spaces play a critical role. Leadership development will also become important in many organizations, with the aim of actively pursuing an inclusive corporate culture that promotes psychological safety, social interaction, and collaboration.
New workplace strategy—there is no quick fix
Companies need to evaluate how these trends affect specific operations and employees, and adapt their workplaces accordingly. At Coor, we are already noticing that many companies are considering a long-term transition, and believe that considerable potential can be realized by taking the opportunity to review long-term workplace strategies.
“Unfortunately, there are no standard solutions,” Josefine explains. Each company is unique and before starting a major project, requirements and conditions need to be analyzed. A workplace project is a change journey that needs to be well supported throughout the organization, all the way from management and out to every single employee in order to be effective. By determining the future workplace strategy on the basis of employee needs and preferences, companies will be able to remain more competitive and ensure more efficient and productive employees.
“To win in the long run, companies will need to offer an inspiring and functional arena that exudes culture, freedom, flexibility and attractiveness—and now is a good opportunity to create this,” Josefine concludes.