Why Square Footage will not shrink

COVID-19 has changed what the office will look like both now and in the future. Despite the change with many employees working from home, the need for new safety precautions in the office will require more spacing between workstations.  “Social distancing measures could require companies to expand their office footprints by 15% to 20%, the report said, but it forecast no net change in footprint size if half of respondents indicating they would increase flexible work practices followed through.”  Globe St, “Remote Work is Here to Stay, But Office Footprints likely Won’t Shrink” 

Remote work will continue even after a potential vaccination, but for many it will not be permanent. Employees are missing out on personal connections with colleagues while working from home. “Research and development teams also found the lack of face-to-face interaction impeded brainstorming and collaboration.” Globe St, “Remote Work is Here to Stay, But Office Footprints likely Won’t Shrink” 

Collaboration and social interaction are key components for a successful company culture. New employees are missing out on face-to-face interactions with co-workers and therefore not as comfortable reaching out. Company culture is suffering as a result in many industries that typically have employees working full-time in the office.

Working from home Challenges

While some employees may opt to continue working from home in the future, others would prefer to return to the office with the flexibility of working from home when needed. Millennial and Gen Z employees are experiencing additional challenges such as lack of workspace, increased childcare responsibilities and distractions while working at home.

“Cushman & Wakefield also found that overall employee well-being is suffering because of the blurring of work and personal time.” – Globe St, “Remote Work is Here to Stay, But Office Footprints likely Won’t Shrink”.  Employee happiness for many has declined due to the lack of personal connections with colleagues and social interaction. The line between work and home life is often blurred and more difficult for people to disconnect at the end of the workday. The office provides a routine with a beginning and end to each day separating the personal and professional lives.

Mix of work from home and Office

Going forward we will likely see this trend of flexible working from home practices continue. Most prefer the option of remote working in addition to attending the office, which will be commonplace for corporations going forward.  While some may prefer only working from home, it seems the blend of remote and in office work will be the norm. Even in a post-COVID world, there will be long-term effects and changes to what attending the office may look like in the future.

The future office design changes could include smarter technology such as voice activated doors and elevators, daily cleanings, improved airflow in office buildings and plexi-glass around cubicles. These changes in office safety procedures will have an impact on company culture. The reliance on technology for communication and remote work will result in less face-to-face interactions and collaborations.