For years, I have advocated to workplace leadership to consider encouraging more remote work and incurring less rent. I was frequently met with a light brushoff, as the historic mindset of those in charge was that a large office space was necessary to be productive. This mindset might have taken an entire generation to alter (e.g. until the millennials held the leadership roles). However, the COVID-19 pandemic may just have sparked a change in this mindset, which is true across companies and across industries, as employers (especially those of older generations that have not frequently worked remotely) were generally surprised at how productive their employees could be by working remotely.
As many states relax stay-at-home orders and other restrictions, some companies have started reopening their offices. However, as the office doors begin to open, we may see the following changes to office life as compared to pre-COVID office life:
- More remote working, which will lead to (1) more flexibility for workers to clock in and clock out throughout the day; and (2) blurred borders of a workday, meaning that employers will be able to reach you regardless of day or time of day;
- More video conferencing, which potentially means more visibility (and interruptions) into our daily lives from, among others, children and pets - this could help create connection among our workplace peers and make us appear more human though;
- Less demand for office space, which could foreshadow a burst to the commercial real estate bubble;
- Changing workplaces, meaning that office space will stray away from the recent trends of open concept offices, shared spaces (like kitchens), and co-working spaces, and trend toward private, controlled workspaces; and
- More office cleanings and sanitation protocols (including new technologies in the workplace, such as UV light).
Personally, I prefer to work remotely and, frankly, I am more productive and happier in that environment (mostly because my dog is my office mate). As employers mat start to question their real estate needs (and their rent expense) in this COVID-19 climate, what changes will you make, or do you think your employer will make, to your office environment?