Although businesses are beginning to reopen, the post-COVID workplace is evolving and what we knew as “normal” may never return completely. While many Americans have adjusted to working from home — some even feeling more productive than in a traditional office space – others are looking to go back to the office for a sense of normalcy amid the pandemic. With the costs associated with upholding an office space, the pandemic has made more employers than ever consider the switch to work from home, which begs the question: is work from home here to stay?
Businesses that would have never considered having employees work from home have been forced to try out a new way of working since the pandemic, with some employers loving the results. Companies are now seeing positive feedback and proof that it is possible to maintain productivity without having employees come into the office. The sudden shift in workplaces is opening the eyes of business owners and making them wonder if the cost of maintaining an office space is worth it, as making the switch to working from home would save on obvious expenses like rent, utilities, furniture, cleaning services and more.
While the pandemic has made many employers consider the benefits of a distributed workforce, smaller businesses have already been operating like this for years. Co-working, which has become wildly popular for small businesses and entrepreneurs in recent years, has always been an alternative for professionals not interested in investing in a large office space. However, these open-concept collaborative spaces are anything but socially distant. As the situation progresses, workers across the country — whether they’re working in a traditional office or co-working space — are showing hesitance to returning from WFH out of safety concerns.
So, what is the solution? We can assume that there will be an increase in businesses transitioning to a completely remote model, even after COVID-19. But for some, working from home isn’t feasible long term. Employees have families, are working uncomfortably out of their dining rooms or maybe can’t focus from the comforts of home. Distributed workforces will still need space, whether it’s a place to meet clients once a month or a spot to work in silence away from home.
In today’s modern workplace, innovative business leaders have access to tools that can help balance remote work with necessary in-person collaboration. Businesses might consider a more flexible alternative, like implementing work from home but offering employees a virtual office space. Individuals or teams can rent on-demand spaces whenever there’s a need to interact, or simply when someone needs some space to work outside of the home. This draws costs away from a traditional office but still provides employees with the support and systems when they need it.
As brand president of Intelligent Office, we often refer to this concept as a “pop-up office,” and we expect this trend to grow even after life returns to pre-pandemic norms. This type of flexible work arrangement provides access to a variety of spaces, from private offices and executive suites to fully equipped meeting and conference rooms, thus our confidence behind the model.
The home office environment has plenty of distractions while a dedicated private workspace provides employees with an opportunity to focus intently. When you have a distributed workforce, flexibility is crucial, and while some employees will flourish working from home, others will need a place to go to get the job done. Virtual office spaces are an affordable option that allows your business and its employees to benefit from both environments.
No two businesses are alike, and every company’s balance of remote work and in-office work will look different, but one thing we can all expect from the pandemic is that the workforce will be changing, and brands like Intelligent Office will be working to adapt according to the demands of modern professionals.
Brian Farris is the brand president of Intelligent Office.