About a year ago, companies all over the world were compelled to switch to work from home due to the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the increased availability of vaccines and a steady decline in COVID cases, a majority of them are planning to reopen, redesigning their office space to enable a smooth transition for all. As a result, companies have embraced new space management strategies in line with the pandemic norms that prioritize a safe and efficient workplace.
Here are seven ways in which space management has changed in the post-pandemic world.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
Remote work, which once was optional, became a necessity during the pandemic. A 2020 Verdantix global survey reveals that nearly 80% of global companies invested in enhancing their remote work facilities by increasing cloud storage and internet bandwidth and implementing advanced communication technologies.
Now, with most employees wishing to work from home at least once every week, employers are keen on implementing flexible space management strategies, such as office hoteling, activity-based working, and hot-desking to ensure a productive work environment.
New Technology to Manage Office Occupancy
The social distancing norms post-pandemic triggered the need to limit office occupancy. Therefore, most workplaces have implemented the following technologies to manage space occupancy:
- Visitor management system – Records office space usage by tracking visitors (staff, contractors, employers, and outsiders) and documenting their location.
- Desk Booking Software – Allows employees to find available workspaces and reserve them in advance or on the spot.
More Physical Space Required to Collaborate
According to Gensler’s survey, most of the employees look forward to returning to the office so that they can meet and collaborate with other employees. Therefore, to achieve the right mix of spaces for collaboration and work, employers are:
- Incorporating huddle areas
- Implementing meeting room booking systems
- Reconfiguring conference rooms to limit capacity
Employees to Work as Teams in Separate Shifts
Grouping employees in two or more teams and assigning each team to be present at the office on specific days allows companies to limit capacity without renovating or rearranging the existing space. According to a recent survey, 45% of employers have already employed this strategy.
Similarly, depending on the work and available space, you can allocate a group of desks for a particular team or allow them to reserve space as required.
Office Real Estate Trends to Remain the Same
Though many companies plan to reduce office space because of new space management strategies, the reduction is not expected to be remarkable (according to Verdantix’s survey) because:
- 18% of companies expect to reduce office space
- 63% expect no change in the office space
- Only 19% of companies expect to increase their office space
Office Density to Reduce in the Long Run
Over the last few years, the magnitude of office space per employee (office density) has reduced from 225 square feet in 2010 to 151 square feet in 2017. However, the pandemic has slowed the reduction in individual office space due to the occupancy limits and social distancing regulations.
Post-pandemic, more employees desire to work comfortably in their own space rather than sitting together in a crowded office. Therefore, companies are focusing on reducing office density to improve employee experience while ensuring their safety.
Satellite Offices to Take over Conventional Setups
Despite missing the personal interactions with their colleagues, more employees want to work from home to save money on long, daily commutes and other miscellaneous expenses.
However, collaboration and communication are essential to improve productivity. This is why companies are leasing satellite offices (smaller office spaces in the suburbs) to help employees communicate with others while reducing office density and commuting expenses.
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Amit Prasad is the founder and managing director of SatNav Technologies and has business interests in a wide range of IT products. SatNav Technologies is an IT products company focusing on cloud based map data products and a pioneer in GPS, FMS & LBS Technologies. The product suite includes SatTracx in-the-field location based solutions and A-mantra in-the-office facilities management solutions. QuickFMS from a-mantra is a cloud based facility management system which enhances organization’s efficiency.