Being forced out of their respective offices due to the COVID-19 restrictions has forced many business owners to reconsider the office space. Before, offices were essential to any business, but that was mainly because they didn’t have the technological innovations we enjoy today. The increased speed and accessibility of the Internet, video conferencing apps, coupled with cloud-based tools for document filing and other processes, means that a completely virtual workspace is totally plausible.
Given this, many businesses are reconsidering if they still want to revert to the old 9-to-5, office-based work scheme. For one, it decreases operating costs significantly since you no longer have to pay rent and other utilities. Employees are also speaking out, with about 72% claiming that they prefer a hybrid remote-office model even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. 12% even claim that they want a completely work-from-home model. These statistics aren’t surprising when you consider the time and money they lose when commuting to and from work every day, and how a work-from-home model allows them more time to devote to childcare and other household responsibilities.
If you’re considering an office space for your budding start-up, here are a few things you need to consider in light of the events of 2020.
The role of the office won’t be the same
Offices will no longer be seen as places for work. Instead, they will only be used as a space for tasks that are better done in-person, like team-building activities or client meetings. What determines productivity will no longer be the amount of time spent in the office but employee output. Time and time again, researchers have claimed that the number of office hours does not reflect workplace productivity, and the mandatory work-from-home setup seems to have proven that on a large scale. Companies now realise that it’s still possible to be productive even outside the office. In fact, in some cases, productivity seems to increase because of eliminating workplace inefficiencies like unnecessary bureaucracy and in-person meetings.
Technology will be integrated deeper into the office
We already utilise technology a great deal in the traditional office setting, from a desktop or projector ceiling mount to photocopiers and high-security locks, but 2021 will see us utilising technology to its fullest potential to maximise workplace productivity. This doesn’t mean using robots or artificial intelligence to replace employees. Rather, it means automated processes can take over mundane tasks so employees can focus on more complex tasks. No employee enjoys doing low-level work, so upgrading all employees to more relevant and challenging tasks will foster a more fruitful experience for them.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have permanently changed how businesses view office spaces. However, experts argue that this change will be for the better. For years, we’ve remained stuck in the trap of outdated and ineffective business practices simply because we thought it was a system that worked just fine. Despite the challenges that 2020 brought upon the world, we can at least thank it for opening our eyes to the possibility of improved workspaces in the future.