What does office space look like after COVID-19?
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
by Lincoln Zehr, CPA
There is little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in the “work from home” era, which would suggest companies need less office space. While that may be true, we are also seeing, many who are eager to return to the work place, and their once normal routines.
This pandemic, in many cases will hasten the demise of the very recently popular, open floor plan office, where desks are mere feet from one another. That environment is simply not workable in a post Covid environment – and maybe never again. This suggests that for whatever density of employees’ companies are planning on – they need MORE office space.
There are plenty of ways to measure work-from-home success, and is no true clear consensus on any of this. And despite the apparent success of the work from home during COVID-19 – the results need context. In terms of statistical significance, this national work-from-home experiment has certainly provided a broad cross section of industries. But 60-90 days hardly provides sufficient data to draw many conclusions. Humans have demonstrated since the beginning of time that short-term behavior can be materially different from long-term behaviors.
Do you measure the success on the basis of productivity?
In the Fortune article on May 11, 2020 - "Working from home during coronavirus is going so well that this Fortune 100 company is going to keep doing it - permanently", by Lee Clifford, Nationwide Insurance announced plans to shrink from 20 physical offices pre-crisis, to just four.
In fairness, Nationwide already had a strong work from home culture in place. However, that article also points out the decision was really driven by the need to reduce costs – not a cultural/philosophical shift.
Do you measure success on the basis of employee morale and welfare?
Kevin Roose, a writer for the NY Times and previous work from home advocate has changed his views. He now believes “most people should work in an office, or near other people, and avoid solitary work-from-home arrangements whenever possible.”
It’s true there is some research out there – like a 2014 study in China – that measured a 13% increase in productivity over their office-based peers. But research also shows that what remote workers gain in productivity, they often miss in harder-to-measure benefits like creativity and innovative thinking. Studies have found that people working together in the same room tend to solve problems more quickly than remote collaborators, and that team cohesion suffers in remote work arrangements.
The point is – no matter how your office is structured and no matter what your office culture is like – it all will look very different in a post-COVID-19 environment, and whatever your solution may be, Hampton Enterprises is here to help you achieve your new normal.
Whether your new solution is to lease a new space, remodel, add on to your current building, or finally build the space your office has been thinking about for years we are here to help you navigate the waters of this big decision. We are business owners here at Hampton, and we understand the importance of making the right decision for your business all while making sure that your employees feel safe returning to work.
We are here to help you come to a solution that works for you and your business.