How COVID-19 Changes Office Space Forever
November 16, 2020 by Alexis Babiarz
COVID-19 has forever changed the face of office space.
Even when we eventually return to some semblance of pre-virus normalcy, it’s likely that some degree of social distancing, increased efforts at sanitization, and mask-wearing will all remain in place. At the same time, millions of people worldwide are feeling the mental and emotional effects of having effectively been ‘shut-in’ for over half a year.
Many members of the knowledge workforce, who have been working from home during this time, miss the social aspects of going into a workplace. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
While the notion of the traditional knowledge-worker job as being based by default in a central office may have gone the way of the wooly mammoth since early 2020, coworking as a whole will likely continue to thrive, according to a recent report by real-estate-services firm Cushman & Wakefield. But it, too, will have changed.
In the following sections, we discuss the top three changes COVID-19 has visited on knowledge workers and their workspaces. These are changes that may well be here to stay.
More Flexible Schedules
These days, everyone’s schedule is more chaotic and less predictable. Many schools will stay closed to in-person instruction through the end of 2020, typical, seasonal extracurriculars have been canceled or changed, and child-care demand is soaring.
Workers have had to adjust — while continuing to hold down their jobs. No longer is it reasonable — and nor may it ever be reasonable again — to expect employees and even contract workers to be on-site at a physical office nine to ten hours a day, five days a week. This is especially so when the work being done can easily be completed remotely.
For the sake of sanity, emotional health, and productivity, such workers are likely to want the freedom of the flexible scheduling and membership plans offered by coworking spaces. Metro Offices, for example, has nine locations, and members are free to visit any (or all) of them during business hours. And they can come and go exactly as it suits them.
Less Together, But Not So Apart
Human beings are by nature social creatures. We’re also more productive when we work among others (though that doesn’t seem to extend to working amongst our children and other family members). For the kind of social interaction that fosters contented productivity, solopreneurs, small entrepreneurs, freelancers, and others will very likely turn increasingly to coworking spaces.
When they do, the coworking spaces they find won’t be the ones they left at the start of the pandemic. Plexiglass barriers will now greet them at entrances, as will floor stickers marking six-foot distances between people. Seating will be reduced, masks will be required. But the experience of doing one’s work in a coworking space will offer a sort of ‘alone togetherness’ that many will find to be a comforting relief after so much time at home.
Increased Coworking by Employees
Coworking-space regulars can expect to see some new faces at their space of choice in the coming months: employees of large companies.
“[N]ew demand may rise from enterprise clients who, faced with economic uncertainty, need increased flexibility,” reads the Cushman & Wakefield paper, “The Changing Role of Coworking in the Workplace Ecosystem”, in part. “[O]r they might require short-term space for employees during the slow phase-in or reentry into existing offices now observing 6 Feet Office guidelines. Corporate occupiers’ office strategies may ultimately be changed by the current environment, and coworking could play a role in the future of work ecosystems.”
Get flexible coworking space when and where you need it. Compare what it costs to run your own office with simply letting Metro Offices do the work for you.
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