The pandemic has accelerated the already-ongoing transformation of work-styles, but the design of offices has not yet caught up.
Before the industrial revolution, there was no fixed place where people had to report to work. What started as factories, for people to come together to work on machines, later became offices, where clerks could do standard work under the supervision of a manager. And while the nature of work changed from being more manual to knowledge-based, the office architecture did not keep up with it. Even after the birth of the Internet, the office space continues to remain stagnant from what was envisioned 200 years ago for a very different type of work.
The cultural shift most of us didn’t see coming
Fast forward to 2020 and we have come full-circle in that most people were required to work from home. The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a paradigm shift in how we do things. Companies and employees were forced to assess new ways to work and understand what works for them. And now, with almost a year’s time to observe the impromptu experiment that the workplace was forced into, we have a better understanding of what goes and what stays.
While the initial months of lockdown saw an uptick in productivity as people got settled into a routine at home, it quickly became clear that there was a disparity between the experience of employees of different seniority and income.
Depending on respective family dynamics, the work-from-home situation made it stressful to balance work and home life effectively, especially for employees with kids; younger employees who lived in shared spaces had difficultly isolating their workstations or even accessing the technology they required; whereas new employees were missing the mentorship or networking circle that would’ve opened up opportunities for their progress.
Creating an open, collaborative relationship with the office
As economies begin to open up, it is now imperative that businesses understand that they cannot simply go back to the old restrictive model or abandon employees by adopting an extreme work-from-home strategy that is not inclusive or beneficial to all.
Praveen Rawal, Managing Director of Steelcase India, SAARC and Design Application, APAC said, “The global pandemic has changed the purpose of the office, rapidly and in unprecedented ways. To adapt to the ‘new normal’, organisations will have to redefine the workplace to offer the safety, flexibility and freedom employees expect, while continuing to respond to the shifts that were already on-going pre-COVID; for example, by removing the restrictions and experience that hampered collaboration.”
Fostering corporate culture and creativity whether teams are together or apart
For any business to thrive at this unusual time, they need to foster and accelerate innovation, which is a challenge if employees have to spend time looking for space to meet, collaborate and ideate. The Steelcase Flex is a collection of mobile and flexible workplace solutions that are specifically designed to meet the needs of hyper-collaborative teams. The collection includes everything from height-adjustable desk, markerboards to storage and screens, but its USP lies in its clever mobile design that allows teams to reconfigure their space in a matter of minutes. Like the Flex Carts, which not only makes storing and moving of markerboards, screens and office stationery easy, but can also be used to display the boards vertically or horizontally.
For offices transitioning to smaller control centres with most staff working remotely, the need to bring large teams together and empower teamwork in confined spaces is possible with collaboration tools like the Microsoft Surface Hub 2S. The Roam Collection from Steelcase offers mobile stands and wall mounts designed to support the Surface Hub 2S family of devices, making it possible to effectively communicate with remote teams. For businesses opting for a combination of remote and office working, the Roam Collection offers the flexibility required to support different devices and the ability to adapt in confined spaces.
Whether businesses opt for hybrid working, remote working or full-time office working, they will need to create a more fluid and accessible workspace, while offering an open and accessible network for their employees. Steelcase offers the solutions that will help businesses create the structure to brings ideas to life.
Website: https://www.steelcase.com/asia-enThe pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.