Does 2021 spell the end of the era for the Corporate office world, or its rebirth?
Well no one could have predicted 2020, unless of course you were one of the few doomsayers, who said that the days were ending come 2020.
We are a specialist fit-out and construction group, not clairvoyants, but for our first happenings post we are going to take out our crystal ball and have a go at predicting what we think is in store for 2021 in the Corporate office world.
We’ve spoken with clients, and read a lot about what is to come.
These are the top 3 questions on everyone’s mind, with our predictions.
Will offices be gone forever?
No, but there will be change. Lots of change.
First up, all workplaces must ensure they are safe and COVID-19 compliant. Whilst this will look different for every State and Territory in Australia, there will be fewer people permitted in office spaces (the per sqm rule we now commonly hear about).
Whilst safety of workers will be the priority for workplaces in 2021, there is also opportunity for offices to innovate with their design around spacing requirements.
This will mean, larger offices, more space for each workstation, reconfiguration of common areas to address how they deal with high touch areas, larger common areas.
Offices were already trending towards mini centres, incorporating a variety of different workstyles and settings, to accommodate the generation that have grown up on mobile devices.
This will continue, with an increase in their offerings to workers, such as through food, entertainment and fitness.
We are already seeing this through some of the big tech companies, like Google.
We will see offices becoming spaces where workers come together to collaborate and create, rather than just individual silo offices and workstations.
Offices will become a hub for socialising, learning and development.
Will workers want to return to the office?
Yes, and no.
The pandemic has effectively been a global experiment for working remotely.
People are used to working from home, the world over, and have shown that it can be done, successfully and productively.
Let’s face it. Less commute time to the office, means more time for workers to enjoy life, and less money spent on tolls, for some child care, and eating out.
You regularly read accounts of workers in Sydney, who have a 4r hour return commute time, to Sydney centres just so they can live where there is affordable housing.
Some people are concerned that they will not be able to get workers back to the office, whether that is because workers have personal concerns about their own health and safety returning to the office in a COVID world, or they’re perceived loss of work-life balance, returning to the office.
Whilst there will be no one size fits all approach to workers return to the office, research suggests that people do want to return to the office and that they see returning to the office 3 days a week , with 1-2 days working from home the “ideal” balance.
They also want flexibility, something that has been trending for many years now.
People are social beings, after all, and see the benefit of face to face interaction.
Zoom cannot replace the incidental or purposeful collaboration that happens when you are in the same space, whether that be the water cooler chat, the morning coffee round in the communal kitchen, through to the board room meeting.
Will the City centre ever breathe life again?
Yes. But it may look very different.
The city has always been where people come together to innovate and create. The energy of a city will always attract young people.
Cities will continue and they will survive.
With offices becoming their own mini hubs, with greater social options for their workers, inevitably the shape of the city will evolve too.
There are many businesses in the city that rely on office people to survive. The Australian Government knows that. In Sydney, the Premier has indicated that the immediate focus will be to get Government workers back into their offices as a priority, to set the scene for other businesses to follow.
Other offices will follow, but what they look like will be different.
What does this mean for us all?
Businesses that seek to embrace change and innovate will pave the way to make offices an even greater personal experience, that is safe and flexible, for office workers.
We say, bring it on! We are excited for what is to come.