COVID-19 changed the idea of the traditional office work environment. According to Gartner, 93% of global companies plan to create new rules for their regular offices and their employees’ home offices. From flexible workplaces to offices with more social space, we can expect many changes in future office spaces after COVID-19.
Traditional offices will be transformed into workspaces designed around social interaction, cooperation, and relationship-building. As the future of work progresses, office planning managers will emphasize technology and big data, following new COVID office rules.
Let’s see how big data can be handy for companies while planning their office of the future. Are there any changes in how companies plan their costs and offices in the post-COVID reality?
New COVID office rules
The pandemic has taught many people that work doesn’t have to be what it used to be. In the early stages of the pandemic, some researchers and journalists tried to understand how the spread of COVID-19 would affect people’s behavior. They saw that new COVID office rules moved walls and offices further away from each other and incorporated workplace methodologies from the technology industry for transparent team planning.
Jeanna Lundberg, co-founder and CEO at Respaces, has shared her thoughts on the future of workspaces. According to Lundberg, companies have found that flexible work and trusting in employees are possible and most times profitable. Flexibility and healthcare are vital conditions for the future of office space. As companies explore options beyond regular office solutions, workforce planning managers and business leaders can divide the space differently. Imagine having access to inspiring new locations adapted to different tasks and projects wherever you are.
“The fact that the pandemic lasted so long made people appreciate what they are missing when they are not in the office,” says David O’Reilly, chief executive at Howard Hughes Corp.
Moving to remote or hybrid work brings new benefits to the future of the office:
Better employee productivity
As the world shifted to remote work at the start of the pandemic, employees’ ability to quickly adapt became apparent. Many people who were suddenly forced to work from home have been able to do their jobs as well as, or sometimes even better than, they did them in the office. According to Great Place to Work, about a million US Fortune 500 employees maintained or increased their productivity after they began working remotely (of 2 million employees on average).
Improved employee well-being and work environment
According to a Global Workplace Analytics survey, 4.7 million people in the United States work remotely at least half the time, while 62% of workers between the ages of 22 and 65 say they work remotely at least occasionally, and this number is expected to increase.
Many employees report that not having to go to the office improves their mental health and lowers stress levels. They also value flexibility in parenting. Additionally, by eliminating the need to travel to work, companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
But suppose employee happiness, retention, and environmental benefits aren’t enough. In that case, companies may also consider the savings resulting from a need for less office space and not needing to constantly hire new employees, but upskilling those, who already work for the company.
Companies can save up to $11,000 in overhead per employee if they switch to telecommuting. With remote workers, organizations pay less on utilities and employee resources and need less office space.
Irving, a Texas-based company that has about 76,000 employees around the world, is shrinking its real estate footprint and expects to book between $180 million to $280 million in related restructuring charges over the next year.
The reduction in office space after full implementation is expected to save $60 million to $80 million a year. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022, the company suffered losses of $4.5 billion, compared to $900 million in profit the year before.
What does the office of the future look like?
As more office spaces reopen worldwide, the initial focus will be on ensuring the safety of employees and addressing their fears.
All organizations will need to find their own way to build new COVID office rules and offices of the future for their employees. Digital technologies play a crucial role in making the work environment flexible to meet people’s needs for engagement, work, well-being, and skills development. Here is how workforce planning managers will approach the work and office spaces of the future with the help of big data.
How big data fits into the new office concept
Using big data helps companies not only plan different workforce scenarios but also plan the future office. Smart simulations and calculations can help plan the space and room distributions of new offices, including by identifying office usage scenarios, space requirements, potential bottlenecks, and space potentials.
Simulations can show possible room losses due to hierarchical room distributions. They also can visualize possible workplace factors, like a workspace for part-time employees or the distribution of meeting rooms. Workforce managers can model different scenarios for placing the workforce within the office.
It’s a perfect example that math and data apply in all spheres: big data helps plan the office space of the future, save costs, and recognize possible spatial planning scenarios.
Big data and office design
Marc Syp, Director of Computation at Gensler, shares that using big data in planning the office space of the future it’s not about designing things; it’s about helping people focus on their goals. With large amounts of data and the Internet of Things (IoT), smart connected devices can create more efficient and innovative office spaces after COVID.
Collecting relevant data allows designers to see which parts of the office are involved in the workflow or relaxing processes, when, and how. For example, built-in sensors in critical locations throughout the office can determine which parts of the building are typically used at what times of day.
Creating human-centered offices is a significant driver of many global coworking projects. Therefore, companies that provide designers and architects with information about their employees’ work habits can improve the future of office space. It not only helps designers and architects but also allows institution managers to adapt the way they use their buildings, providing customers with this critical user experience that underpins why jobs use big data.
Predictive data-based modeling is suitable for office planning. For example, companies have learned that after COVID, they might need many fewer office spaces. They need to model these scenarios and predict how many physical workspaces are needed. In simulations, companies can see what the financial savings are in each of the scenarios. This way, companies can plan their offices based on data analysis and make it more precise.
Big data has already changed the way companies do business, as data collection and interpretation becomes more accessible. Innovative, cost-effective technologies constantly emerge and improve, making it incredibly easy for any organization to implement big data solutions into new COVID office rules.
COVID-19 increases the need for a radical rethinking of the office environment, which will be increasingly multipurpose and digital — an integrated space for work and social interaction in the future of office space. Let’s connect! We constantly work with big data and use predictive modeling in workforce planning and hence the office of the future.