When this is all over: “The office” and tenant experience

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“Wellness, employee experience and digitization of work are the three trends that will define 2020. We want to be healthy and effective—technology is something that can enable that.”

When predicting the trends for 2020 workplaces, I hadn't envisioned a global pandemic. However, it seems, that the three trends I expected to see develop have gained a head-spinning pace.

Wellness and health are key

Workplace wellness and health is no longer about cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. It’s about the survival and health of us all—our co-workers and our closest ones.

A pretty well-known study from Denmark shows that open plan office increases the spread of germs and viruses, as well as potentially affecting our immune system. How? By exposing us to noise and distractions that result in stress.

Workplaces that don’t allow us to work remotely, don’t provide a good variety of spaces for different types of work, and don’t provide technology to enable it all will struggle to attract the best employees. (click to tweet)

Workplace technology is not new

The technology allowing us to work remotely and to communicate effectively has been around for the longest time—since the mid-1990s one can argue—after the arrival of mobile phone, laptop and the Internet. It is only now that an entire generation of white-collar workers is finally forced to embrace the change.

Managers who feared lack of control and used the crutch of "presenteeism" are finally being forced to learn to operate in the modern world with modern tools. Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom will be the huge winners of this year, and deservedly so.

By no means do I predict “the end of an office.”

Offices will just need to be smarter and better equipped with technology. Landlords will finally have to embrace the fact that there are real people in their buildings—ones they need to be able to contact and learn about.

2020 will be a big year of health-consciousness, work digitization, and general tenant experience.

In this quarantine, that already seems to last forever, it’s sometimes hard to imagine how our lives and workdays will look like after it’s over. Of course, we all fantasize about sitting in a park, eating dinner with friends, and maybe even going to a (gasp!) concert. But I’m talking about when “normality” is back, what will be the new normal?

Reverse shock

I can guarantee that return to the office will feel awkward. Being back among so many people. Everyone having crazy stories to share but at the same time the habit of keeping distance not fully dropped yet...

Will we wave at our colleagues, shake their hand, or hug them? Because, after all, we haven’t seen each other for so long and survived… a pandemic. (click to tweet)

It will likely be a period of huge adjustment and many conflicting emotions.

Office post-COVID

What will be more interesting, however, is what will happen shortly afterwards.

Nearly the entire white-collar workforce will have experienced remote working. Almost all managers will have experienced managing remote teams. If habits form in 66 days then we'll have a lot of people with completely new habits.

Many questions will be raised:

  • Does this really have to be a meeting or will a quick call or email suffice?
  • Can you explain to me why I cannot work from home when you required me to work from home just now, and I proved I can be effective?
  • I feel sick. So I probably should stay home?
  • James is coughing, I don't think he should have come into the office?

Companies who have introduced activity-based working, and had workplace experience platforms plus remote working technology in place, will have a much easier time dealing with the transition. But even there, hygiene will become paramount in desk-sharing. Questions will arise around "Can I trust this desk/keyboard/mouse were properly cleaned after whoever used them before me?"

Risk & Flexibility

In times like these, people seem to naturally form their own "camps."

Let’s break them down into two camps: conservative and revolutionary. Some people believe that everything will return back to how it was without a single thing changed “once that awful thing passes.” While others have visions of office-less universes where technology helps how we communicate 80% of the time.

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

Not everyone’s home is suitable for productive office work. Not every task can be performed equally well online as it is in person. People will get back to offices, but they’ll demand to see technology that supports them along with sanitary and HR policies that keep them safe. Management teams would do well to understand the world is not the same anymore.

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Maciej Markowski, CEO & Co-Founder of spaceOS, a tenant experience platform for modern office buildings and workplaces.


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