The Changing Workplace
Adapting to a “New Normal”
A question we all seem to be asking each other: “will we ever return to the office again?”.
The significant global impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been eye-opening and forced many of us to rework our current routines both in our personal and working lives. As described by The Harvard Business Review, the coronavirus pandemic is the “most significant social experiment of the future of work in action” as we observe a multitude of businesses being forced to adapt and alter their workforce to accommodate for the lengthy lockdowns and the strict social distancing restrictions we have been under. A nation faced with a mixture of furlough announcements, remote working procedures and limitations to working environments: completely ricocheting everyone’s usual routines.
Despite the challenges we face, one thing is for certain: the workplace will never return to the same. But perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing? It is clear a lot of workers don’t want to go back to it. If anything, it has shone light on an outdated routine that was no longer serving employees or companies the way that it used to. And now is a time where the actions we take will shape what our post-coronavirus world will look like. We have an opportunity to rewrite the rules of office working and to now focus our business strategy on building safer workspaces, new cultures of creativity and redesigning jobs to make them more meaningful, making this a vital moment in time to start thinking ahead to what our new workspaces may look like in the future.
Offices are becoming safer
Across the country, businesses have been implementing measures to ensure workspaces and places are COVID-secure for their employees and visitors. The impressive speed at which businesses have been able to adapt has been astonishing too, responding quickly to government regulations and implementing their own solutions to ensure they can return to work safely. Retaining office spaces is still very much an important objective for the nation, as it is these places that can cultivate social connection, spark creativity and create productive spaces for people to work effectively in. Offices began to reduce occupancy space to encourage social distancing measures, and the usual office stationery orders of pens and paper quickly turned into plastic screen dividers, face masks, social distancing signs and hygiene equipment – products that people would never have imagined we needed a year ago. It has been vital for us as a business to respond to this increasing demand of our customers, and we have extended our supply chain to ensure we can provide all of the products our customers may need in these challenging times.
The Hybrid Workplace
Being a country that had predominately followed the typical 9-to-5 office routine for decades, it is clear that the traditional pattern has finally been put to the test. It was uncommon for a lot of companies to willingly offer remote working to their employees, even if just part time, and the stigma that lies around working from home assumes that productivity levels could never be as high as when you are in an office. Flexi-working is a term that has grown more strength over the past few years, with an overarching national emphasis on employee well-being and mental health, but as mentioned before, not nearly as much traction as it has done today. A 6000-person survey conducted by YouGov found that 55% of UK workers had never once worked from home prior to the pandemic and would work 5 days a week in an office. This is particularly true for certain sectors, such as manufacturing, construction and real estate, that have long relied heavily on a traditional working environment in order to operate effectively. And it was just like that, a homeworking revolution was created. No more commutes, no more offices or coffee breaks with your teams. No more conferences or booking of meeting rooms, the usual drill was quickly turned on its feet and employees had to somehow recreate this routine from their own homes.
Despite this, the biggest shock for the nation was perhaps the surprising revelation of how quickly people figured out how to work from home. Remote and flexible working was inevitable: but the pandemic certainly acted as a catalyst to our transformation. It was only a matter of time before something would have to change. It forced businesses to give their employee’s the freedom to work from home, and to identify a new working model to guarantee they could still operate ‘business as usual’. As you can expect, remote working calls for a culture change and the questions we should be asking lie in understanding what workers enjoy about remote working, and how their experiences are varying countrywide. If we can move past decades of orthodoxy around what is the typical ‘office’, then we have an opportunity to retain the best parts of office culture whilst finding new ones to do achieve things better, faster and more efficiently.
How are we changing to match this revelation?
As the pandemic took over, we quickly established that our customers environments were changing, and so were their requirements. Our customers were no longer in offices, and if they were, their main priority was to ensure they could travel there safely and maintain strict hygiene regulations to ensure they could reduce infection control. For that reason, we believed our old branding of ‘OfficeScape’ no longer served its purpose or reflects who we are as a business, hence why we took the careful consideration to start trading under a new, and more appropriate name. This allows us to now progress our brand to establish an inclusive range of workplace product and service categories available to you, and to demonstrate how we will continuously put your needs as our main priority.
The future of the office
What’s your thoughts on the changing workplace? How is the pandemic affecting your working environment? We would love to hear about it! Get in touch with us today, or alternatively share this blog with your thoughts and make sure to tag us.