As we make our way out of Covid 19 conditions, we will inevitably see extraordinary changes to office spaces both commercially and at home. During the last 18 months, the majority of the office workforce was required to work from home, with little to no warning, and no guarantee as to how long they may be doing so. Now that the brunt of this pandemic appears to be at an end, offices are restructuring – changes need to be made in order to adapt. We are at the dawn of a new age that sees a balanced amount of time spent in a work and home office.
Many people were sorely unprepared when the announcement was first made instructing all those who could, to work from home. Older and more established workers may have had a designated office within their home, but a large proportion did not. We saw a flurry of people trying to scrounge together equipment to see their job achievable from home. This meant a lot of taking office supplies from work or nipping out to the shop for an ergonomic mesh office chair to meet the requirements from human resources. On the flip side, many people thought this would be a short-term arrangement and made do with what they had at home. Others simply didn’t have enough space in a small apartment to afford them a choice. Furthermore, with schools and childcare closed, many had to turn to nannying to watch the children. As the vaccine is distributed, and numbers of the virus are at a safer level within Australia, many are looking towards what the future will hold. It may be less risky to have staff in the office as per normal, however, this is unlikely to happen. Workers have discovered the flexibility that comes from being able to work from home, and employers have realised that it is more economical for them. As a result, the modern day office will look drastically different to that of the past.
Many workplace offices are going to be downsizing. This is enabled by the plans to have only a portion of the workforce in the main office at any time. For some, the introduction of ‘hot desking’ is the way forward. We will require our computers to be completely portable. This can be achieved with laptops that can be hooked up to stationary monitors, keyboards and mouses as required. Office stools in meeting rooms and communal areas are ideal as they can easily be moved and added to for meetings and activities requiring a physical presence. Everything should be designed for rearrangement and low maintenance. Furthermore, building materials chosen for any renovations or furniture should be ones that are easy and effective to deep clean – Covid 19 sanitation requirements aren’t likely to end any time soon. During the time of active virus with the risk of inter employee transmission, office kitchens had many restrictions. With a downsize in office space and capacity, we will also see a downsize in break areas. There will be less equipment (such as crockery) required by staff. This is both due to the lower number of people at a given time as well as the risk of contamination though poor cleaning of equipment. All in all, the workplace office is going to be smaller, and probably a lot less welcoming and social.
As the amount of time spent working from home is on par with at work, there has never been a better time to throw yourself into creating the ideal, modern home office. Whether you have a room in your home that can be converted, or you are going to be designing one from scratch, it is imperative you create the ideal space to foster productivity as well as comfort. When designing your new office space, it would be advisable to revitalise it and make it fresh. Perhaps with a coat of paint on the walls, or a new carpet or rug. Ensuring you have adequate power points throughout the room will make your life, and your job, much simpler. Depending on your profession, installing filing cabinets and shelves may help keep your documents organised. Organisation of all physical work will become even more important as it will be frequently moved from one office to the other. This is especially important for professions of a confidential nature; such as medical or financial services. You will of course need a desk and chair to work. If possible, getting easily adjustable designs is in the best interest of your health. It has been long suggested that having a fully adjustable and ergonomic chair is ideal for your posture, however, it is also ideal to have an adjustable desk. Desks that can be lowered and raised allow you to move around through your day and or stand for a period of time. This will prevent repetitive strain on the same muscle day in and day out. Adding a decoration or design to help make your home office feel more professional can impact on productivity. Installing a something like a timber ceiling or timber feature wall could help make your office feel less like your home, to get you into work mode. Last but not least, ensuring you have everything you need for your job, in that room, will ensure you don’t get unnecessarily distracted. Nothing gets you off track quite as easily as memory jog that you didn’t put that washing away, or a child who wants your attention. Perhaps you might consider reaching out to childcare recruitment agencies to watch your children during after school hours. This will give you the peace of mind to work just as efficiently from home, without the dreaded commute.
No one really knows what the modern office will look like going forward. We have no way of knowing what disaster or pandemic the world could throw at us next. All we can do now, is adapt to this new world and try to influence how it will change to better suit our needs. Who knew it would take a pandemic to inspire the work life balance we’ve all been craving?