COVID-19 forever changed the world. After a period of extreme isolation and social distancing, people are eager to reconnect. My hope is that many communities, families, friends and colleagues will come together stronger as they seek purposeful connection.
In the workplace, there will be a shift away from typical office plans into spaces that are meaningful and intentional, and the greatest value will be placed on time. The workplace in the 2020’s will become a hub for connection and exchange.
Many of us already worked remotely prior to the pandemic. In fact, according to a recent study, some 14.6% worked from home. In the first week of following COVID-19 closures, 34% of the workforce pivoted to working remotely. So, during the period of state and local mandated closures, nearly ½ of the workforce was working from home. (source) Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, estimates that 25% – 30 % of the workforce will work from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021. (source)
In the next chapter of workplace design, technology and augmented reality will continue to empower our ability to communicate locally and globally. What has been a rising swell of remote work is now a tidal wave.
The home office is ripe for thoughtful redesign. Residential design was a driver in workplace design in the previous decade. Now it’s the workplace that will strongly influence the residence, such as ergonomic and/or active furnishings. Considerate acoustic planning will also be central to facilitate virtual communications.
All the while, we yearn for the sense of camaraderie, mentorship and creativity that only being together in-person can bring. In the coming decade, the workplace becomes a company’s connection site. Conference spaces, collaborative areas and areas for focus, concentration, meditation or quiet preparation will dominate. The need for open or closed offices will be dramatically reduced, since all task-oriented assignments can be completed remotely. Expensive real estate costs and carbon footprint will be reduced. Two or three companies may even share one headquarter space, alternating days of the week with one another and sanitation schedules. Instead of going to the workplace to work, we’ll go to the workplace to connect.