Written by: Tara Kintz
As Director of Strategic Business, I bring a unique perspective to my work with companies in different vertical markets. This includes managing the challenges of returning. My clients’ needs for my support are often very different. My conversations with clients have not changed much in recent years. As clients sought out information about ways to support their employees who work from home, I discovered that this was true early in the pandemic. In their search for the future workplace, companies were more alike than they are today. Let me share the top six concerns that I have heard repeatedly in every conversation.
Division. Employers want employees to feel safe. The ability to divide workspaces between coworkers can help employees feel more space and health. You can think of acrylic dividers and creative plant walls. And yes, the return to the cubicle. Many companies have indicated that they might shift to shift work to allow employees to be moved apart. Although it might not be 6-foot long, the plans will move too far away from employees’ desks, so that an employee could get a cold or sneeze.
Flexibility. No one company can predict the future of their office space. They need flexibility in their plans. Furniture as a service is a way for companies to make a bold move and create their own workplaces. They have the luxury of time to make a decision and can pivot if the first choice is not the best. It’s okay to say that I don’t know when it will come to an office footprint in the future.
Capital. Access vs. The growing trend of Access vs. Capital. An inextricable decision made too quickly can result in a costly capital outlay. It will take some time to plan the office’s rebirth. But, if you do, it is worth the effort.
Technology. There are many new tasks to be managed and analyzed during and after the Return to Work. The most difficult part of being a COO is deciding who this responsibility falls on and how it will be handled. 4Site technology can be used to track workspace cleaning and usage in order to create a more long-term plan. This is why it is important. This data will help you design your workspace. Real data will back up your workplace decision and ensure that you are meeting the needs of your workforce.
Air Filtration. Nearly every company that I have ever worked for has a desire to create healthy working environments. Although covid is no longer a concern after the vaccine, employees are still a bit irritated. Air filtration units in employees’ workspaces shows that you care about their wellbeing and health, both today and in the future.
Work from home. Companies want to ensure their employees are healthy and comfortable until they return. Many companies I spoke to were interested in work from home programs. However, many of them put off those plans because they believed their employees would be back at work sooner. The conversations now revolve around a plan for getting employees back and keeping them well, until they return. Many companies rent work-from-home packages to their employees because it sets up the environment quickly and can be picked up when the employee returns to work. The furniture can also be repurposed and reused instead of being thrown away.
There has never been a better moment to not know all the answers to the future of work. We do know that employee engagement is vital at every stage of the process. Employers will ultimately have to ask employees if they feel supported and safe in returning to work. You will be able to create a plan that allows you to pivot and change and you don’t have to know everything today. This will help you build a new culture in your workplace. Please reach out if you have any questions about the trends or you see them.
This post was written by Tara Kintz. Tara is a director at Signature Workspace which is a Tampa cowork space. Signature Workspace, owned and operated by Cantor Fund Management, offers services and amenities such as private offices, flex space, co-working space, virtual offices, meeting/conference rooms, and more.