The coronavirus outbreak forced millions of working professionals to stay at home to earn their paychecks. Now, the big question is whether the virtual workforce will be ready or even want to return to the office again?
Social media is rife with chatter that online meeting platforms like Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Teams will remain the ‘new office normal,’ replacing the need for the traditional office building. Apples and oranges, as far as we’re concerned.
Here’s what physical workspaces offer that virtual meeting sites cannot:
The Transformation of the Office
Now, that’s not to say the business office settings themselves will not undergo a transformation because of the pandemic. The traditional office space may need to be laid out or designed differently as we all make our way back after working on the home kitchen table for a couple months.
For example, to assure the returning workforce who might have lingering concerns from the health crisis, office spaces will incorporate healthcare-related ideas such as using fabrics that retain fewer germs and are easier to clean or special UV lighting that disinfects the office at night. Heading into your building, doors may open automatically to protect you from having to grip the handle or push it open. Instead of pressing the elevator button, you might just have to tell it what floor you want. And when you reach your floor, instead of the crowded open floor plan you’re familiar with, you might find a room full of dividers and carefully placed desks that will allow employees to work at least six feet apart.
Many of these design elements have already been incorporated into new buildings for years; the pandemic has just made them more of a modern office upgrade essential.
Welcome Back to the Office
So, let’s face it, most people agree they aren’t able to ‘work’ at home the same way they do at the office. The distractions of family and everyday issues can certainly influence the ability to focus and make one less productive. That’s why, for the tens of millions of folks who work in office buildings, waking up in the morning, getting dressed and driving to the office will never go away: it may just be a bit different once you get there.