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Returning To The Office: Part Two

Returning To The Office: Part Two

Last year, we wrote a blog about returning to the office post-covid lockdown and how businesses would need to prepare. Now that new habits have been set into stone a bit more and things are settling down, we thought it was time to return to this topic with our updated thoughts and guidance!

So much has changed, even in such a short period of time. So here’s our updated guide to returning to the office…

Hybrid Working

If you haven’t considered hybrid working yet, it’s time to embrace it before you’re left behind.

At the start of the year, there were rumours of employees being reluctant to return to office life full-time. With so many lifestyle changes it’s understandable that the flexibility of working remotely would be hard for many people to sacrifice. This is exactly why the hybrid style of working has taken off so rapidly.

Allowing for the advantages of flexibility to merge with the benefits of working in an office environment, hybrid working is now one of the most popular desires of workers. When done right, this style can not only help people who feel isolated working remotely and boost productivity, but on a bigger scale, it can also change the way we design workspaces altogether.

We’ve already explored how COVID-19 has changed office design but this really is something that we could be seeing become the norm in the near future as more companies embrace hybrid working.

Talking to your employees about their preferences for hours and environments is the best way to move forward when making a decision about whether hybrid working will work for your company.

Social Distancing

The guidance for social distancing has changed quite a bit since our last blog, and could still be subject to change, so before we go any further we recommend you check to confirm the latest guidance where you are.

In most places, social distancing and mask-wearing are down to personal or corporal preference. With vaccinations coming into consideration now, some workplaces may be scrapping screens and social distancing completely.

If you were one of the many companies to install measures such as hygiene stations it may be reassuring to keep these in place for both your employees and visitors. The usefulness of encouraging cleaner habits will be just as important for preventing those dreaded office colds as it is for preventing COVID.

How can office design support the return?

So, how we behave has changed but how do office design and commercial fit out come into this?

To start with, employers need to consider just what it is about the office that will encourage people to return. After all, with the option to work from home now far more common than it ever was pre-pandemic, it might take more to entice people back.

Using office design to adapt the workspace to new needs and requirements is the perfect solution and will make employees happier in the long run. If people feel like their presence is wanted and their needs are respected, this can really help build a stronger sense of community at work and enrich company culture.

Adapting to these changes may involve physically changing work environments. Not all of these changes need to be drastic. Even simple additions of more homely fabrics and comforts such as pillows and soft furnishings can make a big difference.

Implementing new break-out spaces for people to socialise and relax may be particularly successful for those looking to focus on wellbeing and building workplace bonds.

Even new private pods or dedicated areas for hot-desking would help with those searching for hybrid working as we mentioned earlier.

What needs to be considered?

Ultimately encouraging a return to the office is all tied to the end goal of futureproofing.

Office design needs to change in order to reflect the changing requirements of workers. If nothing changes, it’ll be much harder to keep employees happy in the long term and could have detrimental effects on productivity, quality of work and eventually the performance of the whole company.

If you haven’t considered how your office may need to change as people return, now is the time!

If you are thinking about an office fit out to update your office design, get in touch and organise a consultation with one of our experts to further explore the interior design and social distancing solutions available to you.