The Long-term Implications of COVID-19 On the Workplace

February 7, 2022 3 Minute Read

Future Workplace: The long-term implications of COVID-19 on the workplace

Slowly but surely, people are retuning to the office. But nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic first gripped the world, things are not the same.

Workers aren’t going back to sit at a desk five days a week – if they’re making the trek in, there’s got to be a purpose for their presence.

While some of the long-term implications of COVID on the workplace remain to be seen, there’s no question that hybrid work will play a starring role.

The concept has been growing in popularity since March of 2020. Pre-pandemic, just 44% of companies were receptive to the idea of hybrid work. By April of 2021, that number had risen to 87%.

A hybrid work policy is believed to be the new normal by nearly 90% of large companies, according to a CBRE Research Occupier Sentiment Survey conducted in the spring of 2021.

“Almost every occupier we’re working with is looking at a hybrid work arrangement, with two to three days of remote work, and some form of structure that’s unique to their organization,” says CBRE’s Senior Vice President, Client Strategy, Lisa Fulford-Roy. “Very few are on the extremes of all in the office or all remote. Those solutions are being specifically tailored depending on what those organizations are valuing in terms of culture and type of work they do and worker profile they have.”

Almost every occupier we're working with is looking at a hybrid work arrangement - Lisa Fulford-Roy

Fresh start

Post-pandemic, the utilization of office space is changing, too. Call it a “fresh start” to the workplace.

Businesses are moving away from the model of “one person per one desk” and towards activity-based work. The physical office will be recalibrated, and priority will be given to spaces that inspire collaboration and social connection amongst workers.

These shared environments will be utilized to their greatest potential. This may spur a second coming of the co-working space. With fewer people in the office each day, occupancy and real estate solutions must provide flexibility. Forty-five percent of CBRE managed accounts surveyed said they’re exploring moving segments of their business into a co-working space.

Upgraded amenities

Just as the physical office changes, the amenities within a space will need to be upgraded, too. Companies will have to “magnetize” the office to draw workers back.

While this includes hospitality-inspired amenities, like onsite food and beverage and fitness facilities, the most desirable features are those that favour flexible, shared space and infrastructure.

From how often people are in the office, to why they’re there, to even the work they’re doing, the pandemic has changed almost every aspect of the workplace. And it will continue to do so.

As Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, told Yahoo Finance in February: “I think for any company who says we're going back to the way things were, I think that's just defying laws of human nature.”

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