(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The recommendations on this article about Covid-19 in the office are NOT from health experts, and have not been medically tested nor proven as an effective cure or prevention for COVID-19 or any other diseases.)
The stay-at-home orders forced employees into flexible and remote working arrangements. Now’s the time to implement the best office strategies to maximize workflow and personnel needs.
A Great Time to Repurpose Your Office Space
The office is often seen as a place where you had to show up if you had a job, but the Covid-19 stay-at-home order changed that perception. Companies were forced into repurposing office space when their teams had to work remotely.
Employees in Southern California are returning once again to their previous work environments, as you can tell by the freeways that are getting more crowded.
But don’t just put everyone back in the same workstation. Instead, pause and review:
- What worked during the pandemic’s stay at home orders in Los Angeles, Orange, or nearby counties
- What could have worked more effectively
- How will you be able to repurpose the existing office and make it serve more effectively than ever?
Put those hard-earned lessons to the test.
Let’s start with the purpose of an office.
Why We Need an Office
Traditionally, the office was the place where nearly all employees come to the workplace because that’s where communication and decisions happened. Teams met there, managers relayed goals to others beneath them, and directives were given and followed up on. You had to go to the office, unless you were in outside sales and seeing customers in a place like El Segundo one day and Irvine the next.
Photo: Friant Novo Panel System
Telecommuting isn’t new, and while it was tossed about as an option most employees kept going to the physical office. Now, during Covid-19, we discovered the routine of working remotely.
Let’s be realistic. Office spaces are opening up again and it’s important to have a central location or off-site locations that act as office hubs. Not everyone is going to work at home indefinitely or in some type of isolated environment.
As noted in the Harvard Study of Adult Development, people want social interactions. Healthy relationships reduce stress, and we feed off the energy of those in our department or colleagues from down the hall.
If we only work at home by ourselves then we’ll miss the funny comments from the office comic or the greetings when we walk by the receptionist desk to our cubicle. We take those little things for granted, but they’re important office morale boosters.
Photo: Cherryman Verde Reception
At its best, an office provides the tools and space to collaborate and solve problems or serve customers. Some workspaces work well in sequence under the same roof. A clothing company or manufacturing facility in Gardena or Ontario can have designers working on computer assisted design (CAD) and seamlessly send their work into production.
If a problem arises, then it’s easy for someone in production to halt the machines and huddle with the designers.
The role of an office is supporting people so they can excel in their tasks and work together to create a successful company.
But as we’ve seen in 2020, not all employees need to be in the same physical setting full-time. Sometimes, the office works well as a space to rally around where you can set and clarify goals before employees head to their home offices or other remote workspaces.
Two Types of Workspaces
We’re seeing two main types of work environments emerge: centralized workspaces and decentralized workspaces.
We’ve relaxed the hierarchy that was once the standard in our country’s industrial era, like at the old Goodyear plant that employed thousands in Van Nuys or the aerospace facilities near the South Bay.
Employees in most industries can now produce work from their homes.
What does that mean for space utilization?
Consider this. A highly centralized company that had either fixed walls or an open office plan had to make sudden changes during the height of the pandemic.
Photo: AMQ Kinex Height Adjustable Tables
Suddenly, you had to connect with your team remotely.
As restrictions are relaxed, you could insist that everyone come back in and take their assigned places. Or, you can evaluate what office strategies worked and how you can now harness the advantages of a decentralized or flexible work environment.
Here are three important takeaways:
- Keep corporate goals as clear as possible
- Communication is more strategic than ever
- Trust is critical in a flexible office environment
The goals from upper management remain a guiding force. They always have been, but when you’re in the same place all the time, casual conversations and questions reinforce those goals.
In a flexible or decentralized workspace, find ways to help your team internalize those goals so they remember them.
You have to trust that your team that is going to get their work done, even if they’re not physically present. This gives the opportunity for them to be engaged and take ownership.
How to Use Your Office Spaces
A manager in a centralized office that either had fixed walls or an open office floor plan may feel that the amount of space is wasted unless it’s filled with people.
If that’s the case, consider all these uses of space in a flexible or decentralized office environment:
- Additional room for client huddles
- More space and freedom for collaboration
- Areas where you can create on-site social media posts
- Places to sit and have smaller team meetings two or three times a week
- More room to train new hires and let them gain experience
Keep in mind that the open office plan came under fire for invading privacy. Employees were known for tuning out their colleagues by wearing earbuds or headphones and thus eliminating the hoped-for collaboration.
Photo: Trendway Conference Area
Finally, with flexible office spaces you may have workers coming into the office as a break from their home offices and the distractions they encounter there.
Make use of modular office furniture solutions or architectural walls for break areas and workstations to help repurpose your office space.
Plan and Repurpose Your Office Future with Experts
A company doesn’t just form and happen by accident and neither does a productive office. Supporting your employees with the tools they need requires design and planning.
The team at 2010 Office Furniture provides layout design and services in addition to supplying you with quality furnishings that can help repurpose your office space. Lay out your office design and plan based on your corporate goals and then get the desks, ergonomic chairs and accessories needed to maximize well-being and productivity.
Your office is not a static environment. It’s dynamic and requires that you manage spaces so that they support your team as effectively as possible.
Read Also: How to Help Protect Workers in Open Office Floor Plans from Covid-19
Main Photo by: Trendway
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: AMQ, Cherryman, Friant, Krug and Trendway
(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The recommendations on this article are NOT from health experts, and have not been medically tested nor proven as an effective cure or prevention for COVID-19 or any other diseases.)