COVID-19 really has been the Horseman of the 21st century and many fundamental shifts in the way we live, work and communicate. It will be remembered as one of the most influential events of this century no doubt. Perhaps its greatest impact has been how we have completely redefined our relationship with each other and the space between us. Face masks, which used to be worn either by those who needed them for their profession or those who bore serious concerns about germs and the quality of the air around them, are now worn by everyone. Now we are all paranoid.
Where queues used to have people huddled close to each other as they waited to get into a place, now they are mostly empty space punctuated by humans, as people maintain 6 feet of social distance at all times.
Where people wouldn’t mind brushing shoulders with each other on the street, now they even cross the street to avoid being too close to others. This isn’t about being a snob, of course, but about looking out for one’s own health.
It’s no secret that periods where humans undergo severe hardship have a way of altering how we think and behave. Sometimes that change may even be permanent. This pandemic is one of those times, and on a global scale, as it has forced us to collaborate and coordinate our behavior change in order to stand a chance against it.
The biggest of these changes have to do with workplaces (and classrooms to some extent). Places where we work together will have to make an effort to adapt. So what are these changes and how will they impact our coworking and flexible office spaces?
1. The way people relate to each other, space, and surfaces will change
A good number of people are getting paranoid about things that would previously only make germaphobes paranoid. About 30% of people now do their best to avoid touching public surfaces, like buttons in elevators or door handles. This has driven a renewed boom in touchless technology and new hygiene products.
As for office spaces, the new focus is on making them less dense. Strategies to de-densify open plan office spaces needs to go beyond just the spacing between workers’ desks. They need to consider circulation as well to prevent or reduce overcrowding. One way to do this is to ensure all circulation is one-way. To make this work, there should also be enough spaces to step-aside so that social distancing is possible in all scenarios.
2. Personal safety will be more important than ever
Many people who were never germaphobes now are. This has led to the unprecedented growth of public consciousness and concern over safety during potential scenarios of exposure to some highly contagious pathogen.
Workplaces will have to include the promotion of feelings of safety into their design. For example, communications protocols that are clear and concise can no longer be an afterthought. Screens on the office floor for company-wide communications are one likely possibility.
We’ll probably also see lots more signs on office floors, mainly telling people what they can do in the event of an emergency or to prevent an emergency, as opposed to what they can’t do under normal conditions.
3. There will be greater focus on mental health and personal well-being
Covid-19 has led to many adverse psychological responses from people around the work, not least the increase in symptoms for those already suffering from mental health issues. This, of course, is in addition to the increase in economic stress and normal working stress from before.
Employers of the near future will invest heavily in design strategies that promote employee wellness and increase their morale. One of these strategies might be more work-free zones in offices that employees can go to to unwind. It might be a place to have a coffee, take a nap, or engage in a fun activity that allows the brain to recharge when the day gets too stressful.
Many offices such as one of Best Essay company will also put in the effort to strike the balance between communal and private space, something that open office plans fail at. There will be an increase in quiet and private rooms where workers can go to make calls, do some work in private, or just take a much needed break.
Other possibilities for the future include access to exercises and activities that promote meditation and work settings that are more ergonomic.
4. There will be an increased desire for connection and a sense of community
You can already see this everywhere as social distancing continues to take its toll. People are finding innovative and sometimes radical ways to connect, including virtual sing-alongs and sharing meals on social media. Where curfews and shelter-in-place orders are being lifted there has been a huge surge in group activities, sometimes in open contempt of the rules. Humans are social creatures, and it will take more than a pandemic to eliminate that instinct.
Workspaces of the future will likely create more central spaces where common activities can be carried out, and where people can share their stories or do team-based work.
With tools like video conferencing and team collaboration (Zoom and Slack being at the forefront), remote work has managed to capture some of the essence of collaborative work that office spaces previously had a monopoly over.
In the future, there will be more coworking spaces with dedicated rooms for video calls for both individuals and groups, as well as community working spaces. This will help to bridge the gap between the office and working from home.
5. Flexible working will be the norm, rather than the exception
The pandemic has forced many businesses to rethink how they manage their work forces, with many of them being more receptive to working from home and digital hiring as a matter of necessity.
In the future, these flexible working arrangements will no longer be a perk that employees are offered as something special. They will be the norm, and many employees will not accept a job that doesn’t offer the flexibility for them to take care of their family, spend more time with loved ones, and save up on commuting expenses.
Even in the area of education, students will look for more flexibility. Luckily, with the power of the internet, it will be possible to outsource some of the most difficult tasks to those more qualified so workers and students can do more of what they love. For example, students will be more likely to seek online assignment help in order to have more time to focus on studying their favorite subjects.
This isn’t going to be a win for employees alone. Employers will also see a reduced cost of office space. They will, however, see an increased investment in the IT infrastructure required to keep it all running.
The future is at once uncertain and hopeful. We may not know when we will deal the final blow to the specter of Covid-19, but we do know that a lot of things will change for the better. It is best for us to focus on working together to bring that future a little closer, and add another wonderful chapter to the human story.
Michael Gorman is a highly skilled freelance writer and proofreader from the UK who currently works at an assignment writing service in Australia. Being interested in everyday development, he writes various blog posts on different aspects of human existence. When not writing, he enjoys meditating and rock climbing or, of course, creating paper writing service reviews. Be sure to contact him if you’re ever looking for the right essay writer for you.