The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the workplace. We sat down with three of Industrious’ VPs to find out what they think the effect of the pandemic has been on the workplace and how it continues to shape where and how employees and employers alike approach their nine-to-five.
Flexibility is in greater demand.
Myra Cortado, VP of Finance and Head of Corporate Development
I was catching up with a friend today who’s a COO at a high-growth start-up. He’s planning to change a significant portion of his office space to coworking post-pandemic. A third of people he’s hired don’t live in his headquarters city, so he needs a workplace that gives him the option to buy off the shelf, say, an office in Tampa, Florida.
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Gradually, then suddenly.” I think that’s what will happen with coworking; the pandemic has shown the amount of flexibility people — both members and the managers who handle real estate portfolios for companies — want in their workplace.
(Learn more about what Cortado thinks is next for the office.)
Companies are switching to hybrid.
Eivind Karlsen, VP of Product
In response to COVID-19, we’ve seen an acceleration of companies moving to a more distributed workforce, meaning there’s a hybrid work model where they’re working from home, they’re working in third places, and they’re working in the office. So part of the time, they’re working or collaborating virtually, and part of the time they’re working in-person with others.
From a productivity perspective, working from home has been relatively successful. Where it still falls apart is people wanting in-person contact, collaboration, and the culture that only happens when you’re together in a space and have shared experiences. As a result, you’re going to see offices becoming collaborative centers. [People want to] figure out what they’re doing as a team collectively and then go off into individual work settings to do their piece of the puzzle.
Offices will change to accommodate that collaboration. More coworking-type spaces that serve individual work will emerge. Some of those individual moments will be self-serve: “I’ll decide where I go to do certain types of work, knowing that I’ll come together with a larger team a few times a month or a few times a week to do more collaborative based work.” That’s where you’ll see the biggest change in the products and features that we create within our spaces.
For example, if you lived in Brooklyn and you used to commute into Manhattan everyday to your HQ, you might now do that commute twice a week, going to HQ for a collaborative session or meeting. But you still might need a solution that works for you near home. You can be in your at-home office twice a week but there’s still that one day a week where you want to go to a coffee shop, or a library, or a coworking space to get out of home but not necessarily be at HQ.
(Learn more about what Karlsen thinks is next for the office.)
Offices are becoming more distributed.
Bonnie Lee, VP of Design and Construction
Productivity was high at the beginning of quarantine, but now we are starting to see cracks. Collaboration has been reduced, creativity and innovation has slowed, and team members feel disconnected. We need physical environments for in-person interactions — distributed offices that are near people’s homes, with shorter commutes. (The tolerance for long commutes will be much lower after the 30-second commute we all have had working from home.)
The actual design and layout of spaces will change as well. The norm of vast open office plans — originally developed to initiate collaboration and communication — are now a thing of the past. Workplaces will need more phone booths and conference rooms for coworkers calling in from home. HVAC systems will require filtration upgrades and should operate earlier or later than normal business hours to increase the quantity of air exchanges. There will also be more touchless entries with foot pulls or automatic doors and more sensors on plumbing and light fixtures.
(Learn more about what Lee thinks is next for the office.)