Many firms are reconsidering traditional views of the modern working space. As businesses adapt to a changing world, the concept of the office is being restructured.
McKenna & Associates works with firms and clients who strive for premium office environments that prioritise physical and mental health. In today’s world, this means understanding the function of the office itself.
Are offices over?
Yes and no, in the sense at this point even a pandemic won’t cancel out what is a traditionally productive set-up. Offices are designed for easy interaction that speeds up internal processes, thereby increasing turnover.
What is undergoing change, is our idea of the office. At core they’re about convenience and accessibility. In recent years business has explored more flexible office set-ups, most of which have been enabled by technology.
Recent events forced many firms to speed up initiatives. A survey in May by Global Workplace Analytics suggests 30% of the workforce will work at least partially from home post-pandemic, a sharp increase from pre-pandemic statistics.
At present the ideal office work environment in Australia transitions smoothly between a traditional office, and a work from home set-up, with minimal loss of productivity. In that sense, the office has become mentally (if not physically) portable.
In person benefits.
As workplace interaction shifted to online communication, endless virtual meetings led to the buzz term of 2020: Zoom fatigue. Turns out, communicating through video conferencing can prove draining over time, compared to catching up in the office.
BBC Worklife piece “The reason Zoom calls drain your energy” spoke to experts who cited among the reasons, a greater need for focus during video conferencing than when communicating intraoffice, as we work harder to process non-verbal cues.
A required office presence, i.e. in person, reignites the benefits of workplace socialisation. For many, the office represents a return to routine, and that familiarity has a positive impact on mental health after the uncertainty of recent upheavals.
But in some cases, returning to the office has been tinged with unease. For employers, Forbes posted the piece, “How To Assess Your Employees Anxiety About Returning To The Office” that included pertinent questions, and tips on how to respond.
The safe office.
Hygiene has moved to the forefront of office considerations. While Australia has thus far experienced comparatively minimal community spread of COV19, social distancing practices adhered to in the community are being adopted in workplaces.
Many offices are introducing changes that create physical distance between workers, without losing a sense of professional connection. Clear shielding common in retail spaces is being adopted by some workplaces.
Safe Work Australia COVID-19 Resource Kit is available online and includes a number of workplace checklists, signage and posters, amidst a host of helpful material to assist teams in adjusting to the new normal.
For businesses wanting to stay informed on the latest developments, the WA Government website offers COVID19 business and industry recovery information advice online, including economic and health support measures and restrictions.