Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the physical office and office environment are changing. After being fully remote, companies are now focused on revolutionizing office space and increasingly the overall wellness of their employees.
One aspect that companies are now looking for in office space is a collaborative environment. After being remote for an extended period of time, many employees have desired to go back into the office to interact with other employees in ways that are unattainable remotely. When workers have the ability to collaborate, they are 20% more satisfied with their work, in turn, resulting in a higher retention rate and less turnover. In addition to this, with employees being able to talk freely amongst one another, both communication and teamwork improves. This translates into an increase in productivity, as employees work, on average, 15% faster when collaborating with their peers. Not only do these collaborative spaces promote efficiency, but also creativity and innovation, as employees are able to bounce ideas off one another more frequently.
There are several approaches that companies are taking to improve the office environment. The first of which is “hot-desking,” where employees do not necessarily have an assigned desk. As an alternative, there are open desks set up with monitors and keyboards that anyone can occupy during the workday. Another seating arrangement that is becoming more prominent is “soft seating,” such as couches and sofa chairs. Soft seating provides a positive atmosphere that encourages employees to work alongside one another and collaborate. Both of these arrangements promote “collision space,” where employees that typically would not interact with one another on a regular basis are now more likely to either purposefully or by chance “bump into” each other… These unplanned interactions allow for impromptu conversations, sharing and further collaboration.
These interactions are also being achieved when companies seek out a reduced office footprint as an adaptation to the hybrid work model. On average, new tenants are seeking a 17% reduction in space, while The current environment of increased construction costs and interest rates will keep lease rates at current or elevated rates based on tenant needs.
Aside from the physical office itself, there is a growing shift that places more emphasis on focusing on employees and their wellness. A main component of employee wellness that companies are working on is the amenities offered to them in close proximity to their workspace or office environment. For example, some employers are now bringing trainers and barbers into the office or otherwise requiring various wellness facilities be made available to their employees such as exercise facilities within the building. Prospective tenants and their representatives are looking to find a space that helps to provide their employee with the “five in five,” which is five amenities within a five-minute walk from the office.
In addition to this, employers are transitioning from the traditional five-day work week to promote wellness. Instead, companies are now offering a mix of alternatives, such as four, ten-hour workdays or simply closing the office at noon on Fridays. Employers also recognize that some employees are still uncomfortable being asked to leave their homes to come into the office where they feel unsafe. To combat this, there has been a recent shift where most professionals have the ability to work partially in the office and partially at home, or even fully remote. In order to make employees more comfortable in the office, companies are looking for offices with higher standards, such as quality lighting and air filtration.
Both the workplace and working conditions have been constantly changing and progressing throughout time for different reasons, and they are evolving once again. This time, collaboration and employee wellness are at the center of attention as we collectively navigate beyond the last two years marked by COVID related office shutdowns and drastic changes in how and where we are able to effectively work together.
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