As soon as it’s allowed again, the intention is that employees will meet in the office more often. However the expectation is that working from home will continue, even after we have emerged from the COVID-19 crisis. Most large organizations will not go back to the pre-corona crisis office situation. After all, working from home is largely perceived as positive by both employees and employers. It is therefore expected that the old normal will be part of the past when it comes to office situations. While offices are not yet "outdated", we are in the middle of a transition to a virtual workforce that will take more time than many might expect. Companies need an approach that enables virtual work on a structural basis instead of considering remote working as a one or two month stopgap. In any case, the switch to new ways of working will not proceed with the same speed that companies were able to switch to remote working during the crisis. Ideas about current office space choices depend on work and the workforce that companies expect to use in future. How do you create your future office and how can you use your office spaces more creatively to accommodate hybrid "on-premise" and "work-from-anywhere" models?
Our recently published research shows that if all employees work an extra day from home, this can lead to an increase in costs in the long term. These are mainly due to the effects of less collaboration, less involvement in the organization, isolation, burnouts and stress. Despite the fact that collaboration with colleagues also happens from home, research shows that the most effective collaboration occurs in (physical) places that stimulate the exchange of ideas. Moreover, working from home lacks the "chance meeting" that leads to new ideas. In short, the expectation is that when it is possible again, the work will be done partly at home and partly at the office. Whereby the office will become a kind of meeting place and the development of the work will mainly be done at home.
In order to be able to respond to this properly with creating your office of the future, it will be necessary to reconsider where and how the work should be done. Start by defining the purpose of your office or business space. Evaluate what is happening exactly in your office. What do your employees value and for what would they come back to the office? A number of companies outside the manufacturing sector have shown that they can effectively work from home, so identify - and explain - the reasons why people should come back to the office. The office can evolve from a standard location where they go to get their work done into a meeting place. This is because employees are loyal to each other and need a space where formal and informal conversations can take place.