The Evolving Modern Office

2020 changed a lot of things about this world — including how we’re working. Whether it’s working from home, limited travel, or Zoom meetings, how we work in the future will be drastically different than what we’re used to.

While stay at home orders may still be in place and many people are working from home in the Portland area, employees will be back in the office before you know it.

At BnK Construction, we’ve heard from many clients who have changed how their businesses operate and now need to adjust their offices accordingly. Read on to learn why these businesses are changing their offices and what they’re doing to make their future office work better for our new reality.


Why are businesses changing their office layout?

A safer working experience — even after a pandemic

The most pressing reason for wanting to rethink your office is to give your employees more space to feel safe. While by the time you remodel your office the pandemic might be over, the need to give your employees a little bit of space will not have gone away.

The world before the COVID-19 pandemic was different than the one we live in today, and the reality that the air we breathe could contain aerosols that could get us sick is imprinted in our brains forever. By adjusting your working environment to help your employees feel safer, they’ll feel better about working in your office and be more productive.


Different worker expectations

In addition to just feeling safer, your employees are going to be in for a culture shock when they get back into the office. Just think about it — they will have just spent over a year not surrounded by their coworkers and with MUCH more space for just themselves.

While they will likely be excited to get back to work in an office, what they desire may have changed. For instance, there may be an expectation of greater privacy and not wanting to feel like they are being watched over.


Less traditional employees in your office

Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought some necessary cuts to the workforce. On the upside, it has forced businesses to get creative and come up with freelancing solutions. While many of these vacated positions will likely be filled with new (or the same) employees in the future, many jobs may now be completed on a freelance or remote work basis.

Because of this, reprioritizing your space for the amount of employees you will actually have in your office will allow you to maximize your space to create as comfortable and productive an environment as possible.


How are businesses changing their offices?

Reverting back to individual spaces from open office plans

In recent years, there was a massive shift away from old-school offices reminiscent of the 1999 Film OFFICE SPACE to the more modern “ open floor plan” layout that has risen in popularity.

While there are still many benefits to open office layouts, with the pandemic in mind there has been a shift towards more individual working stations in a larger office. This could mean cubicle-like workstations or walled-off columns between desks.

This style of layout prioritizes privacy and gives your employees enough room to feel both safe and comfortable. In addition to making your employees happier, individual spaces also greatly reduce the spread of not only infectious disease, but the colds and flus that can make the winter time a rolling occurence of sick days for your employees.


Designing offices around collaboration to support hybrid working

With remote work now in full swing and many of the initial kinks worked out, many companies have realized that pivoting to remote work has a lot of benefits. Because of this, many are switching to a more permanent remote work situation.

While remote work can match in-office work for most things, one thing that’s increasingly clear is that communication can take a hit. There’s just no substitute for a face-to-face meeting! To try to achieve the best of both worlds, many businesses are planning on a hybrid solution once offices are able to reopen. The idea is that for their day-to-day work, employees can work from home, but the company will keep an office open for collaborative working and team meetings.

For businesses switching to this hybrid style of working, many are reconfiguring their offices to promote and accentuate collaboration. This generally translates into single offices and workstation areas being transformed into collaborative working areas such as meeting rooms, lounges, and big open tables.

While we would recommend leaving some single person workstations in the hybrid model, reconfiguring your space for the new reality is incredibly smart and will make best use of your office space.


Outdoor spaces

While not possible in every climate and at all times, outdoor workspaces are catching on as a great way to provide your employees another great place to work. This idea was becoming popular before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sensitivity to germs that we all now have has only made this option more appealing.

While you may not be able to have the permanent structures you’d have in your indoor office, picnic benches, outdoor A/C outlets, and shaded structures will help encourage your employees to use your outdoor office space and get some fresh air.


Satellite offices

One thing we are seeing is that the biggest offices are having the hardest time figuring out the logistics of getting back to the office safely.

While needing to be part of a longer term plan, smaller satellite offices used in conjunction with your primary office will lessen the amount of employees in any one place. This will not only be safer for your employees, but will help create a more homey feel and promote collaboration in the individual offices. It will also provide a more small business feel that will make your employees more invested in your success.


Rework your office space for the new world

At BnK Construction, we help businesses build or remodel office spaces that empower them to be the best they can be. Contact us today to learn how we can work with you to complement your space for your operations.