As vaccines begin to roll out, many people are finally getting hopeful that the end of the pandemic is within sight. While it won’t be instantaneous, 2021 can see a return to casual gatherings, in-person events
, and of course, working in the office.
The idea of returning to the office has been a reoccurring topic of 2020, much in the way unfortunate news and video meetings were. Plans for returning to the office were drafted, implemented, and abandoned with the ebbs and flows of COVID-19 case counts. But with a vaccine, things will slowly change. This means companies planning to bring employees back into physical offices next year need to fine-tune their re-occupancy strategies and, more importantly, prep and equip their workplaces.
So, what might the post-COVID-19 office space look like? My colleague Beth Schultz highlighted one solution in a recent WorkSpace Connect article
on the Workplace 2030 project. Workplace strategies involved in Workplace 2030 took lessons learned during the pandemic and implemented them in this office prototype, open in San Francisco and planned for other cities. The executive director of the project, Brandon Cook, worked alongside professionals in medicine, real estate, construction, interior design, communications, and more to create this office of the future.
What’s inside? Many of the office amenities that we’ve come to expect are in it: collaboration software and devices, touchless devices, and air filtration abound. Understanding that many workers aren’t going to stick to an in-office, Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule, Cook and his team equipped the office with BlueJeans
for video conferencing and Accenture digital whiteboards for people to communicate and collaborate with people inside and outside the office. Other office fixtures include digital ID technology, touchless printing, digital signage, automated health checks, and more. And, to show how to improve air circulation without replacing an HVAC system, the team used a plant wall from Biome
and a Molekule device for air purification.
Some enterprises might hesitate in implementing dramatic workplace changes like the ones above, especially if they’ve taken a financial hit during the pandemic. Some workplace and IT leaders might even be asking, "the vaccine is coming, so why can't I just go back to pre-COVID-19 working?" While I can see the point, I wonder if that's taking too near-sighted a view and brushing aside what we learned during the pandemic — expect the unexpected.
And at the risk of sounding like an alarmist, some infectious disease experts are already warning about the next pandemic
and how we will all need to be better prepared. So, workplace changes need not only address immediate concerns but also need to prepare for whatever comes their way.
For additional insight into how the future of work is evolving, check out other recent WorkSpace Connect posts. In her latest WorkSpace Connect piece, for example, UC consultant Melissa Swartz
, discussed taking a longer-term view of remote working. And for those looking for a bit of peace and quiet — a home office away from home (and office) — my colleague Dana Casielles shared
how remote performance software company DEN and construction firm Method Homes partnered on creating remote work solutions fit for a backyard. And separate to the future of work, but timely with the holidays, I covered some simple ways to add a bit holiday cheer to your (virtual) holiday party
— don’t forget the ugly sweater and eggnog.
And, if you enjoy WorkSpace Connect content like this and others, which brings together perspectives from the IT, real estate/facilities, and HR disciplines, make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter