What Does the Post-Pandemic Office Look Like?
As work-from-home employees begin to trickle back into the office this year, it begs the question: What does the post-pandemic office look like?
Even the most reluctant companies (and employees) have realized they can be productive at home. Sometimes more so than at the office. Employees also overwhelmingly enjoy the convenience, comfort and safety of working from home.
However, not everyone prefers working from home, depending on their at-home situation. Homes aren’t necessarily equipped with home offices that have doors to keep out spouses/pets/children. Additionally, some people genuinely prefer the clear separation of work-life and home-life. For others, the isolation of working from home is another disadvantage.
While businesses have been fast-tracked into accepting a work-from-home culture, they also continue to see the advantage of maintaining a physical office for collaboration and team-building. All signs are pointing to a great reimagining of workspaces and a “hybrid” model, with time split between working from home and part-time in the office. According to a survey by KayoCloud, upwards of 80% of companies envision this hybrid model.
As it turns out, employees also prefer the hybrid model. Gensler’s 2020 US Workplace survey shows that employees already in a hybrid working environment are experiencing benefits like enhanced creativity, productivity and quality of relationships.
As businesses implement this hybrid model of working, we expect that the open office floorplan is here to stay as people will take advantage of newfound face-to-face contact for collaboration. The open office lends itself to the collaborative spirit, but micro-spaces for individuals to focus (when they need to) will also be necessary. Acoustic considerations in the post-pandemic office will be vital to making sure these mini focus zones provide adequate separation and noise control for employees to use.
For teams that require both break-out spaces and private areas for focused work, incorporating adequate acoustics is key to minimizing the reverberation of chatter coming from across the room or even across the desk.
Adding acoustic installations in the form of ceiling baffles, clouds or acoustical lighting can significantly cut down reverberation from nearby collaborative meetings in shared open spaces.
With various employees coming and going on different days, many spaces will also need solutions that are easy to adjust on the fly, like modular division that can easily unfold and collapse.
Another important issue for offices moving towards more shared and shareable spaces is cleanability. All solutions should be easily cleaned and disinfected according to CDC guidelines to keep a happy and healthy environment.