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What will the role of the Workplace be Post-Pandemic? 

There is a whole lot of conversation around the future of the workplace after Covid-19, What role the workplace will play? What will it look like coming out on the other side of this Pandemic?

The last big shift in Workplace Design was 12 years ago with Activity Based Working. This is now the next big thing and it is really exciting to be part of it.  

The pandemic has taught us heaps about our ability to connect with each other through the digital realm. I’ve now got Zoom, Teams and Soundcloud in my vocabulary! It’s shown us that we don’t need to have such a rigid routine of 9-5 to get our work done. We’ve learnt to be flexible as the line between home and work has become somewhat fuzzy.  

After the initial adjustment of working from home I hope that this has been mostly a positive experience for people, spending more time with family that would otherwise be lost in commuting. As industry has slowed it has allowed us to connect back to those hobbies that we had become too busy for, more time for home cooking and getting back to nature, resulting in a more satisfying and connected life.

Us exploring our own backyard: 

 

 

So this then poses the questions:

What is the purpose of the workplace post-pandemic and why go back to the office when we can work from home in our pajamas?

We are social beings and crave human interaction. Since we have now proven that we can work from home, the workplace will now serve 2 main functions:

1. To Socialise

The workplace will become more of a social gathering space. Somewhere that we can interact, build connections and relationships.

In the past we go to work and then go home to have our social lives, but in the future we may go into the office to have that social connection and then go home to do work. It is almost as though the realms of workplace and residential design will be flipped on their heads! Go to work to socialise and go home to work. This is going to have a major impact on the way we design the workplace. Spaces will be designed around social interaction and community.

2. To Concentrate 

The workplace can provide a place uninterrupted focus. Particularly if there are a lot of distractions at home: family, pets, friends, neighbours, etc. 

If you once worked in a buzzing office, you may have taken work home to concentrate. As more people work from home, the office becomes relatively empty, resulting in this also being flipped on its head, the workplace becomes a place to focus.  

Future Workplace design

In the Workplace post-pandemic we will see a shift in how we design and new types of spaces come into play.

What was once a Workplace with banks of workstations and a small lunch room attached, it will be flipped so we see the primary spaces as large flexible social areas that can be used for gatherings and collaborating with flexible modular furniture, mobile TV’s and whiteboards, focusing on people and their wellbeing. Then the secondary spaces will be for focused or individual work, with workstations, Zoom rooms and meditation spaces.  

There will also be a new layer to the design relating to health and hygiene. More attention to entry spaces and thresholds, circulation pathways and material selections.

We will see a further advancement in technology, with contactless solutions becoming the norm, reducing the number of surfaces we need to touch.  Automated or sensor-activated controls for anything and everything, lights, aircon, coffee machine, printers, elevators, escalators, the list goes on,  and in theory this should make for a much more sustainable and hygienic Workplace. Which is really quite exciting!   

So what do you think?? Interesting to say the least!!!  I know now is the time for innovation!

Stefney Schultz
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