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Four Ways COVID Will Change The Workplace Forever

 13 Jan 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has upended so many aspects of our lives, including how and where we work. As more than half of the global workforce are doing their jobs from home, it looks like the old way of working no longer exists - it is a thing of the past. Many employers believe there won't be a return to the pre-pandemic routine of nearly all staff spending most of their time at an office desk once the pandemic subsides. So let's gaze into the future to consider four of the most likely workplace changes as a result of COVID-19.

More Remote Working

With greater flexibility in balancing personal and professional lives, 30-second commutes and the freedom of a more relaxed schedule, working from home is bound to remain popular in a post-pandemic world. People have had a taste of it, and productivity hasn't suffered, and so there appears to be no reason for it to stop.

According to a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, 80% of people who responded to their survey enjoy working from home. Meanwhile, 41% said they're more productive than before the crisis, and 28% reckon they're as productive.  

Going Cold on Hot Desking

During the last decade, many companies waved goodbye to traditional office setups, where everyone had their own desk in favour of hot-desking and shared workspaces. This working arrangement increases flexibility, cuts company costs and makes more efficient use of space.

However, revolving workers and shared spaces can create a breeding ground for germs. Whether or not the demand for hot desks plummets remains to be seen, but if they stay, companies can't afford to be lax about hygiene measures. Hiring premium cleaning contractors can mitigate contamination risks. 

Downsizing to Smaller Offices

The pandemic has focused minds on what the office is for and the role it plays in companies. A large scale move to remote working is prompting many businesses to reconsider whether it makes more sense to operate out of smaller premises. According to a survey of over 500 senior business decision-makers, nearly three quarters believe COVID-19 will lead to more UK businesses downsizing to smaller offices this year. And 37% of those questioned said their company is already planning to relocate to smaller spaces during 2021.

While moving to a smaller office can reduce overheads and result in operating capital, you have to consider whether it will affect your future growth and is practical. After all, reduced square footage may make good financial sense now, but you don’t want the cost and upheaval of moving offices again in the near future if headcount rises again. Instead, you may choose to utilise the extra space to make your office more comfortable or appealing to new and existing employees by adding shower facilities, break-out rooms or a seated eating area.

Relocating Away From City Centres

COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated that a lot of work that usually takes place in offices can carry on when they're closed. Given the high rents in major cities, firms may not be able to justify the cost of the square footage. While some companies will continue to be attracted to big cities for the prestige and to compete for top talent, others will move to premises further away where rents are cheaper. Another motivation factor will be the desire to reduce their employees' commuting time.

A New Normal

While it is no means game over for the office, future workspaces will most likely look and feel very different in a post-pandemic world. The changes brought by COVID - including greater flexibility around office hours, hygiene concerns and longer operating hours to accommodate flexible working patterns - are going to require more flexible cleaning services and a higher emphasis on sanitation and sterility to make places COVID secure.

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