In normal times, corporate offices are packed with people and buzzing with energy and activity. This year, however, they’ve become veritable ghost towns.
Take a typical Silicon Valley tech company, for example. Hardware engineers can work from home on coding days. On other days, however, they need the office to access hardware, machinery, and other proprietary tools.
The million-dollar question: what’s the future of the office? As it turns out, COVID-19 is transforming office spaces, and technology plays a critical role.
The state of offices today
Most large offices remain closed as companies grapple with when to reopen. In New York City, for example, only 8% of office workers have returned to their offices, and it’s unclear when others will be back.
At the same time, only 26% of major employers expect to reopen their offices by the end of 2020. According to the New York Times, the majority of New York employers – 54% — believe they will return to the office by July 2021.
The same goes for major companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Google, Facebook, and Uber have unofficially targeted July 2021 as their reopening date, with many in the process of implementing permanent remote work.
Many companies are still fully remote and in no rush to fully reopen because their office employees—from software development to marketing and finance teams—can do their jobs at home full-time.
A smaller percentage that has recently reopened or plans to reopen is doing so because some of their employees need or prefer the office.
These companies are deploying different strategies, but many of them are staggering schedules so workers are coming into the office on separate days to ensure safe social distancing. These flexible work arrangements allow employees to split their time working remotely and in the office.
Business leaders and employees support permanent flexible work schedules and the ability for employees to continue to work remotely at least part-time when the pandemic threat is over. In fact, 55% of executives plan to allow employees to work from home at least one day a week. Most employees – 83% — want to telecommute at least one day a week, according to a PwC June survey.
With flexible work arrangements and the pandemic in mind, companies are now reassessing their office strategies, from where they’re located to how they are designed and used. The upshot: traditional offices aren’t dead, but they’re evolving. – Read More
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