[Opinion] The Workplace Is not Dead, Long Live the Hybrid Office

[Opinion] The Workplace Is not Dead, Long Live the Hybrid Office
A rather new coworking space in the old port of Marseille, France. https://now-coworking.com/coworking-marseille/

The health crisis has shaken our relationship with the workspace and the traditional definition of the “office” has become obsolete. In this article, Céline Fraquelli, Sales Manager at Framery’s headquarters in France analyzes the new priorities to be integrated into the design of tomorrow’s workspaces. Read this article in French here.

The year 2020 marked the explosion of videoconferencing. An essential tool for maintaining collaboration during successive lockdowns, videoconferencing has emerged as an effective way of communication and a solution to connect employees who are not only working remotely but are also in different geographical areas, quickly and at a lower cost. Experts estimate that 30% of the global workforce will be working remotely several days a week by the end of 2021.

Videoconference usage will continue to grow and with them the need to develop workspaces adapted to this type of communication. Today, traditional office spaces suffer from a lack of meeting rooms and quiet areas that are optimal for activities that require high concentration or privacy. The priority for the tertiary sector is to equip itself with high-performance technologies allowing hyper-connectivity and to configure workspaces to create optimized conditions for these new modes of collaboration.     

Now Coworking in Rouen, Normandie, France

New Premises: The End of the Fixed Office,  the 3-6-9 Lease and Fixed Furniture

The trend towards a hybrid workplace that is no longer geographically anchored but changes location according to the needs and rhythms of the workforce, began before the pandemic and has now become more pronounced.  This model fits a nomadic and agile way of working, given that coworking spaces have long been positioned as a “third place” between the office and the home. Since 2015, approximately 500,000 m² have been leased by coworking operators in the Paris Region, including nearly 200,000 m² in 2019 alone.

Today, these locations represent an attractive option for companies wishing to satellite workspaces, consuming them as a service on-demand, based on the travel and needs of employees. The real estate flexibility and the financial advantage they represent over fixed leases is significant, especially in times of uncertainty and constant back-and-forth between different health protocols. Office furniture is following the same trend. Fixed equipment is no longer a viable option while flexible solutions that can be reconfigured quickly and inexpensively will take precedence.     

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Image credits: Framery office pods; courtesy of Framery

New Expectations: Well-being, Comfort, Hygiene 

Having experienced the benefits of remote working, employees will demand optimal working conditions: acoustic comfort, no interruptions, high-performance office equipment. The pandemic has also pushed the issue of hygiene and health safety to the forefront. A comfortable working environment is now a space that offers guarantees against the spread of infections, equipment that is easy to disinfect as well as optimal ventilation. Company premises will become ultra-ergonomic, comfortable spaces, equipped with the most innovative technologies to provide employees with ideal conditions when working in the office.      

Supporting and encouraging the return to the workspace will be part of the new objectives of work environment managers. The crisis we are experiencing has profoundly changed our working methods and our relationship to space. It is now up to companies to update their spatial and structural organizations to meet these new needs.  

Sources:

Global Workplace Analytics

Cabinet Knight Frank, November 2020 study

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