More than a year has passed since the start of the Corona pandemic, and with it the rapid rise of the home office. In light of a year of home schooling, inadequate home working equipment and a lack of social contact, our survey – which canvassed 1,000 employees across Germany – shows that most employees want to return to their offices after the pandemic. The expert panel which joined the first webinar in our ‘Power of Place’ series in March 2021 also agreed: Offices, as places for creative exchange, are essential for productivity and identification with the company. In the second part of the series, entitled ‘Workplaces for the future – requirements for the post-Corona office’, which took place in May 2021, we addressed the question of what these offices need to look like so that employees are happy to return to them after the pandemic.
One trend is already clearly emerging and will become even more pronounced in the future: The office is losing its purely functional character. Performing everyday tasks, making phone calls, working in a concentrated manner – all of this is possible for most people at home. What many people missed during the pandemic, on the other hand, and what is becoming increasingly important, is contact with colleagues, a sense of community and identification with the employer through a shared sense of achievement. The post-Corona office must take this trend into account, and in the future will become more of an all-rounder in the respective corporate design: a cosy living room, a creative writing room, a place of lived community. A healthy ambience with efficient use of space and low maintenance, thanks to sustainable construction, are just some of the requirements that will be placed on the workplace of the future.
Corporate design worlds instead of 'just' office
As a general contractor, we take these requirements into account. Contactless door openers accessible via swipe card, Face ID or voice control, automatic temperature screening at the entrance and occupancy plans for a secured minimum distance in the office are just some of the elements that will increasingly play a role in our projects in the future. However, we will not be turning away from the concept of open space and returning to individual offices – the advantages of an open, modern room structure for exchange and a sense of togetherness still outweigh the disadvantages. On the contrary, health disadvantages of these open offices are countered by measures such as air purifiers. Of course, such modern offices cannot be created everywhere or for everyone. A-cities in particular, but also B- and C-cities, continue to be highly attractive office locations. Large corporations such as Allianz and Nestlé are already reducing their office space outside central locations. However, we are increasingly building for tech corporations in A-locations, which have also grown – or in some cases precisely because of – the pandemic, and continue to experience rising demand for space. These corporations are not only major players in the German office real estate market, but also trendsetters in terms of design. Offices as worlds of experience with a focus on exchange and identification with the company have been shaping the office landscapes of Facebook, Google and Co. for some time now..
Talents decide how they want to work
Our survey shows that companies with shared workplaces are ahead of the game when it comes to employee loyalty, motivation and identification. Recognition and community play just as big a role as self-determination and flexibility. Depending on the job and task, different, individualised work models will be in demand. A modern space concept takes this development into account and can be flexibly adapted to respective needs. After all, flexibility in terms of work location and time goes hand in hand with modern office spaces in which desk sharing can be implemented just as much as communication zones and places of retreat. Each company must decide individually on the interplay of "noisy" and "quiet" work areas, and the weighting of these areas, adapting them to the needs of its employees. Models such as co-working can supplement office use and home office as a third pillar.
Conversion of space instead of reduction
Our second webinar also shows: Offices will have to change. The biggest demanders on the office market, such as large tech companies, are inevitably moving into existing buildings due to the lack of new construction space: We expect a refurbishment share of a good 70%in the office sector. So, the rule for the future is: refurbish space instead of demolishing it. Offices and home offices will continue to coexist peacefully and will be used increasingly flexibly, depending on the corporate culture and the needs of employees. The office is increasingly becoming a community-creating place of experience that strengthens employee loyalty and increases productivity through community
Find out more about our webinar series and our research and insight report, ‘The power of place’ here.