by | Sep 10, 2020

Once the pandemic is behind us and it’s safe to return to the office, what will companies need to do differently? After months of working at home, employees are unlikely to be eager to go back to five days a week in the same offices they left in March.

In fact, over half would like to continue working from home at least some days each week, according to Tribe’s national survey. And when they do show up at the office, they’ll want to make the most of their time with colleagues to collaborate, have meetings in person and engage in a little small talk.

Task-specific workspaces

Although they may not need assigned offices any longer, that doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable in cavernous open plan office spaces. Think about some collaboration spaces to fit just a few people and others that can comfortably hold a large team, small soundproof booths or rooms for phone calls and conference rooms equipped with good video cameras and monitors. (For some smart thinking on creating compelling office space for the post-COVID world, try this article from Steelcase.)

Spaces to support small talk

Perhaps even more important than any of those spaces designed for specific types of work, think about creating social spaces where employees will bump into each other — especially people from different teams. A roomy kitchen and break area with lots of counter space to lean, tables and chairs or even couches can encourage employees to hang around for a few minutes in a spot where they’ll have opportunities for casual interaction with other employees.

These sorts of social interactions can be the basis for future collaboration and idea sharing, can help break down functional silos and can increase engagement by building human connections at work. (For more on how that works, try this blog post: If You Want Collaboration, Encourage Conversations That Aren’t About Work.) These social interactions are also one of the primary draws for coming back to the office.

What they miss about the office

In the same Tribe survey mentioned above, employees working remotely due to COVID-19 were asked what they missed about being in the office. The top five considerations were:

  1. Being able to spend time face to face with my team
  2. Being able to access people from other teams or functions
  3. Networking and building professional connections
  4. Feeling connected and included
  5. The camaraderie of being in the office with people

The pandemic has meant a sudden and significant disruption to the way many companies work. But a disruption also offers an opportunity to reinvent. This is a chance to create new workspaces that better support productivity, collaboration and engagement.

Interested in creating a more engaged workforce? Tribe can help.


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