The concept of workplace has transformed in the last few months with remote work remaining steadfast. Lunchroom coffee top-ups look quite different in our own kitchens. Much like acclimating to an upcoming winter season, there were grumbles, there were new sweaters and new routines to get us through. With that in mind, what are we to expect once the green light is given for a return to the office after months of working at home? According to a recent Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, “the number of Canadians working from home [has declined] for the fourth consecutive month.”Whether that trend continues is hard to say but preparing for your return to the real home office means shifting your perspective.
Before the pandemic, a work from home policy in some companies seemed like the mythical unicorn; you didn’t believe it until you saw it. Work environments have always been designed to keep employees focused, productive and of course, happy to come into the office. Now that many have experienced remote work more consistently, the pros and cons have been stacking up. All that buzz has pushed some companies to leave their work from home policy open (we’re looking at you, Facebook).
So, what do some of those pros and cons look like? Everyone has a different situation depending on their circumstances but there have been enough matching similarities. Let’s start with the cons and rip it off like a band-aid together:
That seemed bleak, right? But there’s always a flip side:
It’s to be expected that with any change comes innovation because humans have a rep for being adaptable. If there’s a problem, we tend to try to fix it. Take the simple snow tire as an example; snowstorms, ice, and rain weren’t going to get in the way of getting from point A to point B. Invented in 1908, winter tires have evolved to meet the needs of the present. (They also led to the invention of the snowmobile, thank you very much). The same can be said about the work office which has been remodeled from open office layout to cubicle days back to open office layouts. So, what’s this next stage going to look like?
The conversation is already buzzing among architects rethinking the way offices will now be designed. What’s being considered is the ideal size of the work office that accommodates safety measures for a full return to work. That also includes contactless measures where possible – think elevators, door fobs, anywhere a point of contact occurs. Technology might be able to help with that (hello voice-activated commands, pun intended). Some are even selecting materials more practical for long-term disinfection and cleaning.
In the meantime, what does a return to work look like with the office spaces currently waiting for use? A few ways work offices have changed include:
Adjustment to a job environment, whether remote or in the office, can be jarring which is understandable given the circumstances. When it feels like it might be too much back and forth, it’s important to check your perspective and communicate your concerns to your employer. Chances are you’re not the only one thinking it.
The good news is everyone is working together to make the work environment effective. Shifting the work office from home and back is temporary; like changing your winter tires for the season because it’s the safe thing to do for everyone down the road.