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Resetting Your Work Environment for 2021

Resetting Your Work Environment for 2021

The first two quarters of 2020 were all about reacting to a paradigmatic shift in how we work and figuring out the best response. Now, in the latter half of the year, it is time businesses think about the work environment and adapt offices to the new normal. This is vital as employees slowly but surely return to physical workspaces.  

5 ways the definition of “workspace” is shifting

Did you know that most employees do not want a 100% remote work environment, preferring a flexible model instead? Less than 8% of job seekers want to WFH full-time; another survey found flexibility to be one of the top 2 concerns for US and Asian employees. In other words, a complete resetting of the work environment is necessary to ease employees’ return to offices and improve productivity in the new normal.  

This means pivoting around the following trends:  

  • Outdoor workspaces to gain popularity – Experts and healthcare professionals have regularly suggested that the risk of infection multiplies when too many people are confined to a closed space. In contrast, open spaces with plenty of natural ventilation are safer. In 2021, companies could bring the outdoors inside, holding conferences and meetings in a natural environment so that everyone has plenty of space.  
  • Regular hygiene checks will be par for the course – This could actually drive up employees’ confidence in a company, demonstrating that the employer cares about their health and wellbeing. Temperature checks, touchless shared resources, and access to sanitizer will be among the biggest priorities for companies.  
  • A full office layout redesign on the cards – Several employers are using this time to redesign office spaces from scratch, providing employees with a fully reimagined work environment once they return. Open layouts would remain popular with one important tweak: colour coding and other visual cues to segment social distancing-friendly spaces. These new offices coming up over the next few months will combine adequate ventilation with the necessary individual isolation.  
  • Non-essentials put on hold – At least for the initial months, non-essential activities will be restricted in an office environment to minimize 1-on-1 interactions in close proximity. Large scale employee engagement events, prolonged overtime hours, unscheduled breaks, and so on might no longer be acceptable.  
  • Virtual work environments to improve further – In 2020, most companies were new to WFH at this scale, and might have faced teething troubles. Next year, we look forward to more mature remote working models with a structured policy, remote working communication protocol, and investments in digital infrastructure. In other words, both physical and virtual work environments will carry equal weight.  

Adapt to change, and hit “refresh”

The first step towards change, as they say, is acceptance.  

There’s no denying that work environments as we once knew them have seen a massive transformation. Companies that embrace this change, quickly pivoting around the five trends we discussed will gain a competitive advantage. The goal is to inspire confidence and loyalty among employees during these uncertain times and mobilize them towards greater business productivity. 




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