The Covid-19 pandemic has given millions of employees around the world a taste of remote working that they don’t want to give up just yet.
One of the questions I was frequently asked when looking to hire a graphic designer recently was whether he had to go to an office or if he could work from home. One of them even admitted that she has her best ideas at night and is not productive during the day.
Before the pandemic, many of us worked in office spaces that haven’t changed much in terms of layout over the past 30 or 40 years. General managers and management usually have dedicated private offices and employees work in cubicles.
Many interacted primarily during lunch hours or in the elevator, with the majority of communication today taking place electronically.
When I worked in the public sector, my department was responsible for creating a relaxed leisure space for employees where they can work away from their desks, relax in chairs facing the panoramic windows, dine with colleagues, read in the library. and enjoy breakfasts and snacks served daily.
A number of managers thought this was wasted space and believed it would not positively impact employee productivity or well-being. They were wrong. It fostered strong bonds between employees and also helped boost morale, while also encouraging many of us to go to work.
As companies like Google and Microsoft continue to embrace remote working, flexibility will remain a key factor when hiring and retaining talent.
The pandemic has given many of us the chance to re-evaluate our options and prioritize mental wellness.
Employees who have experienced remote and freelance working will need more conviction to step into a physical office. They will be looking for companies that offer them something that working from home does not. This could be an opportunity to socialize with colleagues in a unique setting, or to access certain facilities that are only available at the office, such as wellness programs, a library and workstations designed for different personal preferences.
Depending on their industry, companies that will have a mixed workforce where some will work from home and others in the office, must develop a work environment that meets both.
So, instead of desks or assigned desks, companies can opt for a shared open worktop where employees can work from common tables and dedicated private spaces for those who need it. This also means that the premises must be equipped with screens allowing to connect with remote workers by video. These can be large screens for meeting rooms or smaller ones everywhere.
A research-based business can attract talent by offering unique facilities such as an office library, recording studios to facilitate their research, and quiet research rooms. The desk can be designed to improve concentration.
A design agency can do without private offices, consider open workspaces, as well as facilities that will inspire creativity. These could include reading nooks, special computing devices, printers, photography and videography studios, podcast studios, art spaces, photography tools, and recreation space for those with a blockage. creative. The goal is to design a space that looks like a home.
Companies should consider adding wellness rooms, an internal nursery for newborns and toddlers, a gym and showers for their employees. Offices should be redesigned to provide a relaxing environment and should, where possible, extend the benefits of meditation, yoga and wellness classes to on-site employees.
One thing is certain is that the concept of the office as we know it will be transformed. As companies compete for top talent, their premises must offer facilities that will attract employees to work there.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur who runs her marketing and communications business in Abu Dhabi.
Update: October 24, 2021, 3:39 a.m.