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This is the end of the office as we know it

Changes you may see

If and when you return to your office after the pandemic, you'll probably notice some changes.

  • The doors of the building may open automatically, so you don't have to touch the handles.
  • You may tell the elevator where to stop, rather than pressing buttons.
  • You may walk into a room full of dividers and well-spaced desks.
  • Meeting rooms and kitchens may have fewer chairs.
  • There may be more frequent cleaning policies and better ventilation systems.

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This is the end of the office as we know it

This is the end of the office as we know it

https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/14/21211789/coronavirus-office-space-work-from-home-design-architecture-real-estate

vox.com

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Key Ideas

Changes you may see

If and when you return to your office after the pandemic, you'll probably notice some changes.

  • The doors of the building may open automatically, so you don't have to touch the handles.
  • You may tell the elevator where to stop, rather than pressing buttons.
  • You may walk into a room full of dividers and well-spaced desks.
  • Meeting rooms and kitchens may have fewer chairs.
  • There may be more frequent cleaning policies and better ventilation systems.

Working from home

Before the pandemic, only 4 percent of the US workforce worked from home at least half the time. However, the trend of working from home had been gaining momentum for years.

It is estimated that within a couple of years, 30% of people will work from home multiple days per week.

Continued remote work

  • Before the pandemic, a lot of company management and leaders were skeptical regarding remote work. But the skepticism will go away because companies recognize that remote work does work.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic will likely force employers to cut costs. They may reduce their rent by letting workers work from home instead of layoffs.
  • Employers had to spend money on new technology and equipment to work from home - a departure from the norm.
  • Employees themselves are also spending more money to create better home offices.

Making a successful shift

More formalization and company policies around remote work are necessary for the shift to be successful.

A recent study showed that half of the businesses expect less productivity during the pandemic because of a lack of remote work capabilities. Companies that have built up guidelines will have an easier time working from home.

The new office space

As the public health crisis continues, office space will probably have to be altered to encourage safety.

  • It could mean the reversal of the open office trend that was packing more people into open office spaces.
  • The shift may mean more private spaces or personal offices for individuals, and more distance between desks.
  • The introduction of various types of barriers between desks, including cubicles, could resurface.
  • Less visible may be the action managers take to divert congestion points and clean offices.

Uncertain demand

  • Fewer employees coming into the office could mean less need for office space.
  • Safety protocols that require people to be spaced at least six feet apart could cause more demand for larger office space.
  • As a result of the new virus and its containment measures, office leasing has slowed. But office properties will be more insulated than other property types like hotels and retail.
  • Spaces with more private areas that might limit the spread of germs may become more popular.

Coworking destined to change

Coworking companies expect an influx of new clients looking to downsize from traditional office space with long lease terms into so-called flexible space.

Coworking companies have seen a rapid decrease in demand due to shelter-in-pace orders. But it's likely temporary. The uncertainty could cause more companies to look for flexible space that can accommodate rapid changes in their needs.

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Netflix And Chill In Lockdown
Netflix And Chill In Lockdown

The global crisis of the 2020 Pandemic, resulting in billions in lockdown, has resulted in 16 million people signing up for Netflix in March, taking the total subscribers to 183 million.

Clueless Companies

Consumer companies around the world are in limbo. They are groping in the dark due to a lot of variables in the current situation.

Many are non-essential businesses, others rely on logistics and physical goods to be delivered. Many businesses are forced to close by the government, due to the social distancing norms, even though the consumers need them.

What Makes Netflix Tick

.. is that it is:

  • An internet-only business model, with no physical goods to deliver, having no interruption due to the lockdown.
  • Not dependent on advertisers, being a subscription-based service.

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How Remote Work Became Possible
How Remote Work Became Possible
  • Computers and the internet have made remote work a common arrangement, and this is a recent phenomenon. PC and internet access changed the shape of work in an unimaginable way, and the techn...
Slow Adoption of Flexible Work

Today, remote and flexible work arrangements are seen as a perk.
In 2018, a survey showed that around 3 percent of Americans worked from home on a regular basis. Due to technological advancements (starting with Blackberry), employees were working from everywhere, the subway, the café, home and during the commute.

But even after we have the technology required for remote working for about fifteen odd years, we have been slow to adopt mainstream remote working. The mass-adoption needed a catalyst, and that was provided in 2020 in the form of a deadly disease.

Remote Work During The Pandemic
  • The 2020 pandemic has shown that all remote working is possible, and bosses are no longer reluctant towards it, a forced change due to the present conditions.
  • Many global giants like Google and Twitter have embraced remote work in a big way, in their bid to protect worker health and to reduce corporate liability.
  • The unpredictable nature of the pandemic and an expectation of the second wave of infections can hamper any chance to return to offices.

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A slow change from home to office
A slow change from home to office

The office's history shows how our work has changed and how work's physical spaces respond to cultural, technological, and social influences

  • During m...
At first, the office was an activity before it was a place
  • Before the modern office, monasteries introduced timekeeping to the monk's daily routines.
  • Later, the office was understood to be a factory-like environment.
  • Work was depicted as a series of tasks that could be rationalised, standardised and calculated into an efficient production machine.
How changes in technology influenced the office
  • The telegraph, telephone, and dictating machine changed the concept of work and office design as telecommunications meant office could be separate from factories and warehouses and differentiate between white and blue-collar workers.
  • While these technologies made a distributed workforce possible, American offices became more centralised.
  • Online connectivity potentially ensures a move away from the office to working from home.

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A long-term response

Global crises are always challenging to navigate. When the time for immediate response passes, we have to dig in for the long haul.

Factors that influence operations going forward will ...

An employee-driven approach

Employees' health and well-being should come first. There may be a perceived choice between productivity and well-being. But, engagement is a natural by-product of well-being.

People are worried about health, job security, their kids' education, life on the other side of the crisis. Micro-managing will not create focus. Tactics like time-tracking software will only compound the problem. Instead, focus on easing their fears. The more distractions we as leaders can clear away, the more effective our people will be.

Guiding principles for a crisis response
  • Part of the response is to hold performance and growth check-ins to acknowledge the contribution each employee is making and help them manage their longer-term professional goals.
  • Err on the side of overcommunicating. Create a communication plan and be consistent. E.g., a daily email from the heads of each unit, or video messages from the CEO. Share even the bad news, to prevent employees from inventing their own stories to fill the void.
  • Keep a tight feedback loop. Know how your employees are coping, how their work is affected, and how they think leadership can help.
  • Be mindful of the resources you're consuming. Don't consume additional masks, disinfectants, and other supplies that hospitals need.

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The quick rise

Slack makes it possible for tens of millions of employees to have online conversations, ask questions, share information, make decisions. The platform reproduces the culture of the open-plan office...

Slack became indispensable

Investors had been wary of Slack since it went public in June 2019 because of its slowing growth, lack of profitability, and competition from Microsoft's competing product called Teams.

But as business swerved to avoid contagion, people were flocking to Slack's product to cope with disaster. Slack became a critical service, like Wi-Fi or electricity.

Work from home

Although Slack also runs on Slack, the company had a work-at-office culture. As the company closed its offices in March, the executive made a series of decisions to make its mission clearer: Slack would take care of its people first during this crisis. In turn, those employees would take care of their customers.

  • They offered to reimburse each employee up to $500 for whatever equipment they needed to do their jobs at home.
  • When the schools closed, they advised people to work when they could.
  • They encouraged their employees to log out and take care of their kids and families.
  • They offer to pay employees their full salaries.

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Longing For The Office Culture
Longing For The Office Culture
  • Earlier a privilege for a few, work from home became a norm for most office-goers due to the ongoing pandemic and is likely to remain for the rest of the year.
  • The shift towards wo...
Work-Life Balance When Working From Home
  • Though employees are happy to see the demise of daily commutes and parking hassles, they are finding out that there is no work-life balance at home.
  • Most workers live in apartments that aren’t suitable for 8 to 10 hours of work every day, as it was never designed to be a full-fledged office.
  • Many employees would want to get back to offices as soon as possible due to social and mental issues, like the feeling of loneliness at home.
Digital Monitoring

Monitoring software that checks time spent on different applications, chat response time, and keystroke recording is now in great demand.

HR departments worldwide are fueling the use of technology to have a way to control the employees that are now no longer in the office.

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Aches and pains
Aches and pains

With the 2020 pandemic, many people are required to stay home.

If you're one of these people, you may be noticing new aches and pains you did not experience at the office.

Ergonomic furniture

Many companies follow an ANSI-HFS standard in the design of their computer workstations, which incorporates ergonomic furniture and accessories.

Most homes don't have the space to accommodate ergonomic office furniture, nor do most people invest in it. If you're working from home using your computer on a regular table or you sit in a lounge chair or on your bed, chances are you aren't in a healthy posture. It could potentially lead to musculoskeletal injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, or even deep vein thrombosis.

Your computer screen

View your computer screen with a straight neck. Put your screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Don't look down at your screen or angle your screen, so you must twist your neck.

You may have to put the screen on a pile of books or on a cardboard box to raise it to a comfortable viewing position.

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The Feature Presentation of 2020
The Feature Presentation of 2020

Throughout history, the most significant and world-changing events emerge in a low-key manner, without warning. 2020 has one such event.

While a global pandemic is unfolding right before our...

Bad Predictions
  • During 9/11, it was predicted that the event will permanently alter our sense of irony. In reality, 9/11 caused massive changes in air travel norms.

  • At the time of the 2009 financial crisis, Time Magazine declared that conspicuous consumption is now over. In reality, the economy made record gains after the 2009 dip.

  • Many others also predicted a long-term reluctance to spend. In reality, global sales of luxury items show an upward trend in the last 20 years.

  • Carmakers slashed production of SUVs, a symbol of excess, and just a ‘bubble’ according to an expert. In reality, Carmakers are slashing sedan production due to the high demand for SUVs.

The Unpredictability Factor

Predictions are inherently inaccurate because in the time horizon of 10 to 12 years many other things happen which cannot be foreseen, and which cause all kinds of good and bad effects. Speculation is useful and starts interesting discussions (like death rate predictions and economic consequences), helping us make the right steps.

The Prediction that can’t go wrong: The future is always unpredictable.