As we approach the end of 2020, widespread uncertainty lies ahead in the year to come. Who’s to say when we’ll get a handle on the coronavirus crisis, how newly elected state and federal officials might respond, and what the future of work will look like post-COVID?
Thousands of people experienced an overnight transition from working at headquarters (WHQ) to working from home (WFH) due to public health concerns. Companies moved quickly to shift their teams into a remote setting where they could perform their roles at a safe social distance — but not all employees were prepared to turn their home into an office, converting kitchen tables into makeshift desktops.
Remote Employees Face New Obstacles Working from Home
Space is just one example of the many challenges faced by employees in a remote WFH setting — especially if the transition is unexpectedly caused by the pandemic. There’s an endless list of distractions that beg for your attention and detract from your potential productivity levels.
Everything from fur babies to real babies, chores/eyesores around the house, loud roommates, noisy construction, and a temptatious cellphone can interrupt your concentrated workflow. Parents whose children attend schools that are temporarily closed due to the COVID crisis might have to take on an additional job and wear the hat of a part-time homeschool teacher to facilitate distant learning.
Personal Homes May Lack Professional Tools and Technology
To make matters worse, technical difficulties could also be at play, impacting workflows and the ability to perform tasks. Remote employees need a reliable internet connection for fast processing, a dual monitor to maintain output efficiency, and secure platforms that support internal/external communication — not to mention industry-specific software for things like data encryption, appointment scheduling, and so on.
Employers can’t expect their staff to own these basic office staples at home, nor purchase them on their own dollar if not. They’ll either need to supply their staff with individual essential items, which could be very expensive, or come up with workarounds that are less costly to their bottom line.
Coworking spaces are one example solution. They’re not only equipped with basic technology employees need to perform their roles, but also a complete suite of tools designed to optimize efficiency. Some features you can reasonably expect to find in a cowork office include:
- Standing desks
- Ergonomic chairs
- Wireless mouse and keyboards
- Cloud-based printing
- e-Document sign
- Video conference rooms
- Projection screen
- Whiteboard and markers
Productivity Is Amplified in a Professional Setting Among Peers
An equipped office will provide the tools employees need to work most efficiently, however, the professional setting in and of itself also stimulates productivity between peers dressed in business attire. Even at companies that allow for a casual dress code, being amongst colleagues who are working toward a common goal nonetheless fosters a strong sense of collective effort and motivation.
Compared to lying in bed and working remotely in pajamas, or trying to complete tasks with a toddler crying in the background, coworking spaces are far superior. They place you among like-minded professionals in a quiet environment and, even though you’re not necessarily collaborating with coworkers at your company, you experience greater accountability instilled in your work ethic.
For example, you’d be far less likely to sit and scroll through your phone if you were within the eyesight of others. Alternatively, you’d feel inclined to put your best foot forward and make the most out of your time reservation while all the tools were available to you. By channeling concentration and inspiring better performance, coworking spaces can improve the quality and quantity of work delivered.
Benefits Increase in Light of COVID Safety Considerations
The opportunity for safe, social interactions between professionals sharing a cowork office offers benefits to both employees and their employers. Although remote work had been on the rise pre-pandemic, few people realized how isolating it can feel when you’re no longer able to chat with coworkers in passing or catch up over lunch. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Glassdoor found that nearly three in four employees are eager to return to the office, citing socialization as the main reason they look forward to coming back.
Childs Mental health concerns have run rampant over the past several months as more and more people began to feel the emotional effects of sheltering at home, isolated from friends and family, in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The crave for human interaction might help explain why so many people spend time on social media when they should be online working — rather than wasting their time and their employer’s labor cost.
Business owners should recognize the importance of their employees’ happiness, as there’s a link between workplace satisfaction and overall job performance. However, reopening their office and allowing teams to work with one another in person may not be a matter of choice; local, state, and federal government agencies have placed restrictions on which businesses are allowed to operate, in what capacity, and when.
Many of these metrics hang in flux due to a number of uncontrolled variables, calling in the demand for flexible office spaces rather than multi-year lease commitments. Coworking offers this flexibility and relieves employers of their responsibility to uphold all workplace regulations that are constantly shifting by enabling employees to reserve space in a coworking office at their own discretion.
Coworking Spaces: The Future of Business in the Post-COVID Era
As the dust begins to settle and companies go back to work, it’s predicted that we’ll see a hybrid blend of WFH structures that require working in-person part of the time. But given the expensive cost of commercial real estate and so much uncertainty hanging in the air, it’s unlikely that business owners will renew their lease contracts. Rather than WHQ, we may see campuses dissolve and permanent headquarters become replaced by cells of coworking offices that have been retrofitted with new features to protect their customers’ health and safety.
No one can predict what the future of business may hold in 2021 with guaranteed accuracy, but at this rate, we can certainly anticipate a rise in coworking.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.