Companies are preparing for their employees to return to the office. Studies suggest remote work will continue, but the office has not lost its attraction either. There has never been a better moment to think how the spaces suit the new normal and what should probably be reconsidered.
According to the experience NCC’s Sales Manager Uku Jaatinen has gained from the pandemic, discussions about the new normal of office spaces are heating up. The results of several surveys reflect a permanent change taking place in the working life and ways of working, meaning there is no going back to the office we once knew.
”Nobody knows really what the new normal will bring, but the bottom line in several different surveys is, about 70 per cent of the respondents want to work remotely 2-3 days a week even after the pandemic,” Jaatinen says.
This is a huge change. Already in the pre-corona era, approximately 16 per cent of the employees expressed their willingness to work remotely while the latest surveys show a 50 per cent increase in the respective figure. The pandemic has proved work can be done from the home, but also revealed a definite demand for other arrangements. Office spaces play an important role in the change.
At the office, remotely or both?
The majority of the respondents of the surveys would choose the hybrid model which allows working both at the office and remotely from elsewhere. This is why Jaatinen thinks companies now have a perfect opportunity to explore the ways employers can offer various alternatives of working, create new policies and strengthen the overall well-being of their employees.
”Many companies have prepared themselves carefully for the future by conducting questionnaires among the personnel and asking about their wishes for future work. Similar questionnaires can help guide the way to the new normal and changing demands for office space,” Jaatinen thinks.
”Although remote work is here to stay, the pandemic has strengthened the draw to the workplace. People want a place to work, but it is even more important to consider which types of work people want to do at the office, and how.”
If working from the home is possible, why commute to the workplace?
The shift to the new normal has raised discussions on the kind of workspaces that will be wanted and necessary in the future, but also on the expectations placed towards the employers and ways of combining the advantages of office spaces and mobile work.
”Office spaces will be needed, above all, to provide leadership and management, which presents clear challenges while working through online meetings only. Office spaces will also be needed for arranging meetings and supporting creativity, innovation and communication. But the most important thing of all is the community spirit for which the pandemic has left people yearning; human connection is now appreciated like never before,” Jaatinen explains.
”If asked to put one thing above all else, I would mention team spirit. People must be able to feel good at the office. While the work can be handled from almost anywhere, the employees will always want to meet their workmates in person and do things together. Successes are made, and creativity is at its best at social encounters.”
The hybrid model vs. space utlilisation
Office spaces have gone a long way, transforming rather quickly from the traditional office room- to open plan solutions and further to multi-space offices. The pandemic has brought a twist of its own to this development.
”The hybrid environment of office spaces is based on the multi-space solution, but instead of the square metres, the focus is now on other features, such as the suitability of the spaces in view of the company’s changing demands, or team-specific wishes. All these factors will strengthen both the well-being and working efficiency of the employees,” Jaatinen states.
Regarding current projects, NCC’s property development activity focuses on finding out what will motivate people to come to the office and how the spaces could best lend themselves to the life-cycle changes taking place in the companies’ space demands. In practice, this means such matters as the space concept that brings the people together, along with a versatile service culture that makes the workday smoother and life more convenient in general.
”The emphasis of the hybrid model is also on the feasibility of the technical, digital and ergonomic solutions. All of these aspects must be secured both at the office and remote workplaces,” Jaatila adds.
Putting work and free time to perfect balance
The working environment is all more important a part of organisational strategy, and the efficient use of office spaces and flexible solutions already are the present-day standard. NCC’s new building project Fredriksberg is a good example of this, since it offers the Spacecent space-sharing platform to the tenants, so they can maximise the utilisation rate of their office spaces.
According to the questionnaires, the respondents greatly appreciated the employer taking on a holistic approach to supporting wellness. OOPS is an example of our projects where special augments are made on matters of job well-being, while at We Land in Ruoholahti the core idea is to develop an entirely new service concept and community spirit.
The Business Student Union’s building Kulma21 downtown Helsinki is a completely new story: it will be thoroughly renovated, restoring its former splendour, and re-opened as a handsome office building with flexible spaces for many different needs of business life.
”By choosing the right spaces, companies can make their personnel feel and work better, offering them multiple alternatives of working. The surveys suggest that even 72 per cent of the employees prefer good work-life balance to a large salary,” Jaatinen says.
The uncertainty that the future holds involves challenges, but it can also be seen as an opportunity. Summing it all up: could the hybrid model of the working life be regarded as a challenge or an opportunity?
”An opportunity,” Jaatinen smiles.
Sources of research: JLL property investment consultancy company, Deloitte expert organisation, Rune & Berg Design.
TOP 5 reasons to go to the office
- Sense of community, doing together
- Strengthening the team spirit
- Good feeling
- Versatile services, everyday comfort
- Overall work well-being