Jan. 28, 2021 - The Coronavirus pandemic caused perhaps the biggest and fastest shift in working practices that we’ve ever seen. But while we’re not out of the woods with Covid-19 and many businesses are still predominantly working remotely, what’s increasingly clear is that this terrible pandemic will not spell the end of office-based work as we know it.
Many companies are reviewing their office space requirements in light of the pandemic, and some have even made the move to full remote working indefinitely. But the vast majority of businesses – and more importantly, their employees – are desperate to return to the office, albeit with more freedom to work remotely or from home when needed. This hybrid workplace model was growing in popularity even before the pandemic – Covid-19 has simply acted as a powerful accelerant to an already burgeoning trend.
Organizations have now seen that a blend of office and home-based work can be achieved to great effect. Once the pandemic has finally been defeated, they know they need to embrace this hybrid approach. With vaccines now rolling out and the end in sight, the big question for 2021 is what companies need to do now to get ahead of the curve.
Here are our first two top trends to watch for in 2021 as we begin the era of hybrid working.
Employees will demand a hybrid working approach
Although we’re at the beginning of a new year, the workplace lessons of the last won’t easily be forgotten. There is now a huge desire from employees to get back to the office while having more freedom to work remotely when needed. In our recent global workplace study, Finding a New Balance, employees stated that they ideally want to work from home two days a week and in the office for three. Whilst some companies have recognized this desire within their workforces and made efforts to embrace hybrid working, many remain underprepared.
In another study we carried out with 900 companies across five countries, we found that just 50% of workplaces will be ready to implement a hybrid workplace in the next 12 months. More telling however is the fact that just 27% of UK workers felt their office was adequately equipped to support a move to hybrid working should it arise in the future.
As the rollout of national vaccination programs finally shows light at the end of the tunnel, companies must invest in hybrid working technology now to meet the expectations of their employees and maintain productivity and engagement. This will be especially important as we begin to navigate the uncertain process of returning to the office. Now is the time for careful and strategic planning, supported by the right technology, to ensure adoption of new ways of working is as smooth as possible.
The desire for creativity will reshape our offices
Pre-pandemic, the desire for more traditional meeting rooms was slowly fading away. Neglected in favour of more modern huddle spaces and smaller breakout rooms, the meeting room seemed ready for obsolescence. But the rise of social distancing requirements mandating rooms large enough to keep the 2-meter rule has changed things significantly.
What’s more, this is a trend that looks likely to stay even after we’ve returned to the office. Our global study found that 50% of employees now prefer formal meeting rooms over huddle spaces and 1 in 3 employees use a standard meeting room or boardroom on a daily basis.
Part of the reason for this is the serious creativity and collaboration deficit that we’ve felt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst productivity and efficiency have survived and even thrived, the lack of human connection has been stark, and creativity has taken a nosedive. As we return to physical workspaces, employees desperately want to connect with each other and collaborate in larger groups, making up for the lost time spent working alone during the pandemic. Expect to see offices reconfigured to reinstate larger meeting rooms, prime for brainstorming and group collaboration, which will have a significant impact on the layout of the office of the future. Check out the ClickShare blogs to discover our remaining predictions for 2021.