What should the work environment of the future look like? This question was relevant even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – and now, in the midst of the second wave and lockdown, it is more urgent than ever. The new normal offers the opportunity to find the right answer. But solutions will not just come about on their own – they will have to be developed. Managers have to ask themselves questions like: What aspects of the pre-pandemic era do we want to preserve? What routines do we specifically want to get rid of? And what new practices should we have adopted long ago?
The office has to provide what remote working cannot deliver. Above all, the new office must be a contrast to the home office and remote working at third places. It offers space for creative and hybrid collaboration. Certain conditions have to be met for this to function. This involves aspects including programming, hardware, software and soulware.
The answers to the following key questions are particularly important: What role should the office play in future? What is required to achieve this? How can we ensure productive and innovative collaboration? How can we maintain social and emotional bonds?
Programming: How will the spaces and rooms be used?
Companies need intelligent sharing concepts involving both office and remote working, and more multifunctional space solutions. They need to move away from permanent personal workplaces – and to support this cultural change with professional change management.
Hardware: What role does the building play?
Distancing and hygiene regulations will have to be observed in each building. Infrastructure, such as ventilation and air conditioning, needs to be state-of-the-art. Office fitout and equipment can be upgraded to enhance employer branding. And last but not least, buildings need to have good transport connections. After the experience of working from home, many employees have learned to appreciate not having to commute. In the post-COVID world, innovative mobility concepts can increase the attractiveness of office buildings and locations.
Software: How and where can digitization help?
Morale suffers when technology fails or is complicated to operate. But features like intuitive networking of all places of work, quick easy room booking, and video conferencing in a studio atmosphere can all boost morale. Traffic management using digital signage could also put an end to the daily rush hour and take the hassle out of travel for many commuters.
Soulware: How will collaboration work?
It is good practice to evaluate and adopt the insights and lessons of remote working to ensure that change is successfully implemented and supported by employees. Staff support is also needed to ensure compliance with the new rules of the game. And as far as change processes are concerned, professional transformation management with transparent communication is essential. It is also important to ensure health and safety in the home office, particularly if employees are going to work more often or more regularly from home.
At the moment, a lot of things may not yet feel normal. But there has never been a better opportunity to shape the new normal. What does it take? Foresight, the will to change, drive, and reliable partners.
These will ensure that FAR AND AWAY the best new normal is achieved.
Further information on New Work at Drees & Sommer
A strongteam at Drees & Sommer specializes in the holistic design, planning and realization of future-oriented work environments and formats. Our specialists for New Work – User-Centric Consulting & Design – always focus on the user.
Thanks to the incorporation of RBSGROUP, which was founded in 1973, into Drees & Sommer SE, our clients get complete solutions. We call them solutions ‘from a single source’, even though a range of creatives are always involved. We will be happy to help you design innovative work environments for the new normal.