What Does 2022 Hold for the Office?

As 2021 drawers to a close and we look forward to the next year, it is obvious that there have been some big changes in the office workspace recently. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive influence on the way that we engage with our colleagues and use the workplace.

After our brief flirtation with most of us working from home, the rise of Zoom and restrictions on travel, and the push for social distancing, the workplace has had to change drastically. COP 26 has given the world an increased focus on the damage that we are doing to the environment, and people are generally re-evaluating the importance of things in their lives.

This has all led to short and long-term changes within the workplace. So, which of these changes are fleeting, and which are here to stay?

Home Comforts

One of the biggest changes that we have seen accelerated over the past year is flexibility in the workplace relating to working from home. More and more employers and employees have noticed the benefits of staff working from home either part-time or full-time. It has meant less time commuting and employees being able to spend more time with their loved ones but has also had some downfalls such as a reduction in collaboration and social contact.

The solution for many businesses is the use of hybrid working – employees working some of the time in the office and some of it at home. This has meant that the workplace has turned into more of a collaborative space. Bigger spaces, but also breakout rooms are becoming increasingly favourable, for example.

Another option that businesses are considering is the hub and spoke model – whereby there is a smaller ‘head office’ or ‘hub’ that is supported by more localised ‘spoke’ or satellite offices, meaning that commuting time is cut and employees are working more local to where they live.

Through the need to compete with the home as a workspace, offices are needing to adapt to include more home comforts. This does not only mean cosy decoration and homely vibes, but also rooms to relax in, places where employees can make themselves feel at home, comfortable seating, and perhaps artwork and team photos.

Space and Social Distancing

The implementation of social distancing has become one of the biggest changes that we saw in 2021. And it has changed the way that many of us feel about being close to other people – especially those who we do not know particularly well.

In other words, whilst social distancing is still recommended in society as a whole, many of us are getting quite used to having a little more space to ourselves – and weary of the potential health risks of being closely surrounded by a lot of people.

Businesses are increasingly feeling the need to create spaces in their workspaces with adequate – or even generous space. Giving employees separate desks at a further distance apart – as well as having reduced numbers of staff in the office – are ways that businesses are doing this.

An office that looks organised and spacious can also be advantageous to the mental health of all employees and not just those who are conscious about social distancing from a Covid point of view. It can be more difficult to focus and be productive in a workplace that is cluttered and messy.

Sustainability

We have seen a massive rise in demand for sustainable workplaces in the past year. As a greater consciousness relating to the environment grows amongst consumers, businesses are under increasing pressure to reflect this in the way that they do their work.

Being a more sustainable business not only includes manufacturing processes and eco-friendly products, but also the way that the business is run and, importantly for us, the commercial property that they inhabit.

Increased insulation, alternative energy sources, and water-saving measures are some of the simplest ways that businesses can adapt their commercial building. Others include energy-saving measures such as using low-energy lightbulbs, increasing the amount of natural light that enters the building, harvesting heat from alternative sources, and creating green roofs and walls.

Creating sustainable workplaces not only helps in the fight against climate change, but energy-saving measures will also save you money on your energy bills. In addition, generating your own energy through renewable sources (such as solar panels or wind power turbines) will also give you a reliable source not only in terms of supply but also price.

Technology

The incorporation of new technological trends is always evolving workplaces. This year, however, we have seen an accelerated use of technology as the world has discovered ways to continue to function despite the pandemic and other events.

Video conferencing technology is not a norm in businesses, and this means that it is being increasingly used in the corporate environment. W are now seeing meeting rooms with the technology for video conferencing, better acoustic technology, and collaboration functions, for example.

Technology such as automation, robots, and artificial intelligence is also being used to reduce the chance of human error, increase production rates, and reduce the number of people who need to be physically present in the building.

Other technology that reduces the need for high amounts of contact has also seen a boom, with sensors on doors, light switches, and lifts, for example, and the Internet of Things has seen a particular focus on improving the speed and quality of internet access in buildings.

Employee Well-Being

We have seen a massive focus in the past year on employee well-being. Many people have re-evaluated their lives and decided that they should be making their well-being more of a priority. This has also been reflected in the workplace.

As the country has reflected on lives lost and what things are truly important to us, as well as wfh challenging ideas of the best way for businesses to function, many have taken a step back to consider how best to make their employees productive, happy, and healthy.

2022 is likely to continue this trend, and we are likely to be seeing businesses increasingly focused on creating a workplace that puts employee wellbeing and productivity on a much more level footing.

What Does 2022 Hold for the Office?

As 2021 drawers to a close and we look forward to the next year, it is obvious that there have been some big changes in the office workspace recently. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive influence on the way that we engage with our colleagues and use the workplace.

After our brief flirtation with most of us working from home, the rise of Zoom and restrictions on travel, and the push for social distancing, the workplace has had to change drastically. COP 26 has given the world an increased focus on the damage that we are doing to the environment, and people are generally re-evaluating the importance of things in their lives.

This has all led to short and long-term changes within the workplace. So, which of these changes are fleeting, and which are here to stay?

Home Comforts

One of the biggest changes that we have seen accelerated over the past year is flexibility in the workplace relating to working from home. More and more employers and employees have noticed the benefits of staff working from home either part-time or full-time. It has meant less time commuting and employees being able to spend more time with their loved ones but has also had some downfalls such as a reduction in collaboration and social contact.

The solution for many businesses is the use of hybrid working – employees working some of the time in the office and some of it at home. This has meant that the workplace has turned into more of a collaborative space. Bigger spaces, but also breakout rooms are becoming increasingly favourable, for example.

Another option that businesses are considering is the hub and spoke model – whereby there is a smaller ‘head office’ or ‘hub’ that is supported by more localised ‘spoke’ or satellite offices, meaning that commuting time is cut and employees are working more local to where they live.

Through the need to compete with the home as a workspace, offices are needing to adapt to include more home comforts. This does not only mean cosy decoration and homely vibes, but also rooms to relax in, places where employees can make themselves feel at home, comfortable seating, and perhaps artwork and team photos.

Space and Social Distancing

The implementation of social distancing has become one of the biggest changes that we saw in 2021. And it has changed the way that many of us feel about being close to other people – especially those who we do not know particularly well.

In other words, whilst social distancing is still recommended in society as a whole, many of us are getting quite used to having a little more space to ourselves – and weary of the potential health risks of being closely surrounded by a lot of people.

Businesses are increasingly feeling the need to create spaces in their workspaces with adequate – or even generous space. Giving employees separate desks at a further distance apart – as well as having reduced numbers of staff in the office – are ways that businesses are doing this.

An office that looks organised and spacious can also be advantageous to the mental health of all employees and not just those who are conscious about social distancing from a Covid point of view. It can be more difficult to focus and be productive in a workplace that is cluttered and messy.

Sustainability

We have seen a massive rise in demand for sustainable workplaces in the past year. As a greater consciousness relating to the environment grows amongst consumers, businesses are under increasing pressure to reflect this in the way that they do their work.

Being a more sustainable business not only includes manufacturing processes and eco-friendly products, but also the way that the business is run and, importantly for us, the commercial property that they inhabit.

Increased insulation, alternative energy sources, and water-saving measures are some of the simplest ways that businesses can adapt their commercial building. Others include energy-saving measures such as using low-energy lightbulbs, increasing the amount of natural light that enters the building, harvesting heat from alternative sources, and creating green roofs and walls.

Creating sustainable workplaces not only helps in the fight against climate change, but energy-saving measures will also save you money on your energy bills. In addition, generating your own energy through renewable sources (such as solar panels or wind power turbines) will also give you a reliable source not only in terms of supply but also price.

Technology

The incorporation of new technological trends is always evolving workplaces. This year, however, we have seen an accelerated use of technology as the world has discovered ways to continue to function despite the pandemic and other events.

Video conferencing technology is not a norm in businesses, and this means that it is being increasingly used in the corporate environment. W are now seeing meeting rooms with the technology for video conferencing, better acoustic technology, and collaboration functions, for example.

Technology such as automation, robots, and artificial intelligence is also being used to reduce the chance of human error, increase production rates, and reduce the number of people who need to be physically present in the building.

Other technology that reduces the need for high amounts of contact has also seen a boom, with sensors on doors, light switches, and lifts, for example, and the Internet of Things has seen a particular focus on improving the speed and quality of internet access in buildings.

Employee Well-Being

We have seen a massive focus in the past year on employee well-being. Many people have re-evaluated their lives and decided that they should be making their well-being more of a priority. This has also been reflected in the workplace.

As the country has reflected on lives lost and what things are truly important to us, as well as wfh challenging ideas of the best way for businesses to function, many have taken a step back to consider how best to make their employees productive, happy, and healthy.

2022 is likely to continue this trend, and we are likely to be seeing businesses increasingly focused on creating a workplace that puts employee wellbeing and productivity on a much more level footing.

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