The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the workplace since its emergence in the early spring of 2020. According to a recent study conducted by Stanford, the rate of Americans working from home full-time has increased dramatically, from 7% prior to the pandemic to an astonishing 42%.
As the pandemic has shifted the way we work, the traditional expectations of formal business attire and frequent business travel have been replaced by more relaxed clothing and remote meetings. Companies are increasingly transitioning to permanent remote work arrangements, leaving us to ponder what the future of the workplace will look like. It is clear that the changes brought on by the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way we work, and it will be interesting to see how the new ‘normal’ will be shaped by this shift.
The BBC Visual and Data Journalism Team recently released an intriguing depiction of what a typical workday could look like in the post-COVID-19 era. The report features a range of changes to the workplace environment that are likely to be adopted, as well as some that may come as a surprise. The report is expected to be of great interest to employers and employees alike as they prepare to transition back to the workplace.
According to Hugh Pearman, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, there is already a diminishing demand for large-scale office spaces. Pearman believes that, in response to this, new workspaces will be constructed in locations away from congested metropolitan areas.
In order to encourage collaboration and creativity between colleagues, smaller offices are being deliberately designed to enable face-to-face meetings. This offers an opportunity to break away from the traditional workday of solely working at a computer, and instead encourages a more efficient and productive use of time. As the modern work-life balance has shifted, the days of spending an entire day typing away at a keyboard are now a thing of the past and can easily be done from the comfort of one’s home.
Additionally, modern buildings are likely to incorporate “touchless technology” such as data science, facial recognition, and voice activation. In order to further reduce the risk of infection, air conditioning units may be equipped with ultraviolet lamps that are capable of eliminating germs and viruses. Furthermore, metals with antimicrobial properties, such as copper, may be used in areas that receive frequent human contact.
“The Exodus from the City”
Pearman then references the historical record to demonstrate how health considerations have been a driving force behind significant alterations in infrastructure. In particular, he points to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when mounting worries about illness and air pollution propelled people to relocate from densely populated city centres to new and growing suburban areas.
According to a recent Politico article, the worldwide phenomenon of urban migration is being fueled by the shift to telecommuting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This piece, titled “The Death of the City,” suggests that when workers realise they can work from any location, those with the means to do so are choosing to relocate to places that offer more opportunities and brighter futures.
“Making Working-from-home Work”
In recent times, with a growing number of people shifting to remote working, the notion of what constitutes a home is changing. UK architect, Grace Choi has noticed this shift, with an increase in requests for home offices and work studios to be included in new builds. This indicates that the idea of home is becoming more multifaceted, with people now needing to accommodate both living and working within the same space.
As we shift to a world of remote work arrangements, “we’re all going to need to design our space in a more logical manner,” says Choi.
As the workplace continues to evolve, we will all need to adjust to the changes that come with becoming hybrid employees. This means that, in the coming months and years, we need to be prepared to work both from home and in the office. It is clear that remote working is now an integral part of our lives and is here to stay.