The Future Of Workspace

Return to the Office Post Covid-19

March 23, 2021 Lars Ørhøj Lauridsen
The Future Of Workspace
Return to the Office Post Covid-19
Chapters
The Future Of Workspace
Return to the Office Post Covid-19
Mar 23, 2021
Lars Ørhøj Lauridsen

This specific podcast is based on a webinar on returning to the office after COVID-19.

There were different surveys discussed. There were different prognoses discussed and there was also some discussion on things we can see in our own platform and your workspaces. So we are going to share that info here in a shortened version.

Show Notes Transcript

This specific podcast is based on a webinar on returning to the office after COVID-19.

There were different surveys discussed. There were different prognoses discussed and there was also some discussion on things we can see in our own platform and your workspaces. So we are going to share that info here in a shortened version.

Lars Ørhøj:

Welcome to this podcast on the future of workspace from AskCody. My name is Lars Ørhøj Lauridsen and I'm the marketing director at AskCody. The meeting and visitor management platform for Microsoft. This specific podcast is based on a webinar on the topic of the return to the office after COVID-19. There were different surveys discussed. They were different prognosis discussed and there was also some discussion on things we can see in our own platform. So I'm going to share that info here in a shortened version. That I hope can give you some inspiration in your own work in returning to the office. But I want to emphasize one point from that webinar. And that was a comment from Luke Schnoebelen from Shook, Hardy and Bacon. An American law firm, one of the biggest law firms in the United States. And he shared some reflections I would like to start off with in this podcast. So I'll just turn over to Luke.

Luke:

One thing I think will happen. And this is from our law firm perspective. We have like 15 different offices. A lot of the support where normally we'd fly someone to a place to do a thing will now be done remotely. And I think space is going to get utilized in different ways. I've been reading so many articles about the office will never return to normal. I think it is going to return to normal. It's just more things happening in less space. And I also think those people that want the flexibility to work from home will be given that flexibility. In our law firm that wasn't really an option for us. We had so many things happening in person. But there are certain roles that might make more sense to be remote. And I think that the last point I'd make. How this would affect our office. One thing we'll be taking a closer look at is what is the space being used for? So instead of having a floor of 20 conference rooms and it's just meetings, meetings, meetings, I think it will help us prioritize how that space is used and make better decisions going forward.

Luke Schnoebelen:

I also think that people that present and go to meeting rooms, I think there needs to be a better blended experience of talking to the camera and the people in the room. Generally before the pandemic, it was just talking to the people in the room and maybe acknowledge the camera and, "Oh hello, everyone else joining abroad or wherever you are." "And we're just going to have a really fancy launch in this room and it's going to be great". "And I'm going to talk to me and many people in this room." And I think that's something that's going to be really hard is the cameras in the room are pretty much the same. There might be a bunch of Zoom people on the screen, but it's different when you're sitting in your couch or your living room or your kitchen talking to 50 people. Whereas you're talking to 50 people in a room and however many people on the camera. So audio and video experiences are, just as important I'd say. And how you present to them.

Lars Ørhøj:

So I really think, Luke is making some very interesting points in this short except from the webinar. Especially the one saying that there will be more things happening in less space. I think we can recognize the whole idea of reducing space requirements. But I think Luke's notion of the need of being able to accommodate a lot of different situations in the meeting rooms and in the office space in general is really important. But now I will turn you over to the webinar track. And that was conducted by Rasmus Nielsen and who is responsible for the product division at, AskCody. So, uh, I hope this will be a great inspiration for you. Have a great time.

Rasmus Nielsen:

Today we will cover four topics. First. I want to dive a bit into, how did COVID-19 change the way we work? Looking a bit at some of the things we've all explored and seen over the last year, how this affected us and then dive more into some research and some input we have on how the offered office would look like when we return after COVID-19 is hopefully a thing we can put in the history books or at least something that we don't have to be so conscious about in our everyday lives. Finally in the end we want to go through, so how can you with AskCody help deal with some of that complexity, some of that change that is likely to be introduced. One could say, so how did COVID-19 change the way we work or accelerated what was already happening? Because we already saw some trends. But we believe some of that just got a really big boost with having COVID-19 upon us. No surprises, first thing that happened, and we all got to work from home. The office is empty enjoying our own desk offices here with good and bad. And that is what happened for almost everyone. Now, it was really important to have then a cloud based solution to be able to have a distributed workforce, one needed file sharing collaboration tools. We've seen an insane increase in that. What would likely have taken years happened in some months. Because you just had to, in order to run your business. Cloud spending rose with 37% during the first quarter of 2020. That was a big change. Many companies had to struggle with that. And some saw all sorts of benefits of remote working. Some didn't have to spend time commuting consequently less traveling, less pollution in the cities. So some benefits, but indeed we also saw some drawbacks. Everything also got mixed up separating in work from spare time and final, but not least Less social interaction. We suddenly sat there just apart, as human beings needed that interaction. These are in the input from different articles and surveys and one of them showing up here that it is people that we miss most about not being in the office. 74% say that people are the ones they miss most about the office. And here also other reasons for going to the office. Having meetings, socializing face to face, interaction, feeling part of the community, focus work, access to technology, meet clients, many good reasons for going to the office. And increased focus on how can we make the office more, safe despite the pandemic. We've been trying to look a bit forward. Speaking with companies looking at surveys. Many are thinking that it's not going to be like it was before. A lot of stuff likely before but, it is going to change somehow. And what are the drivers of this? So why is it going to change? Why not just go back to the way we worked before? One of the big things is that when people got used to remote working and we got used to that, we can be efficient about remote working. We experienced benefits. We see that there are positive things about it. Then this survey is from Price, Waterhouse, Coopers. Among around 850 US workers and 130 employers. So executives managing a company And we do see that there is quite some interest of having maybe 50-50 around working in the office and working remote. And I think we shouldn't underestimate the power of the workforce putting up such a requirements with the knowledge worker we see today. This is suddenly a thing you cannot ignore. Like you need to accommodate this. With companies being open for remote work, seeing it can work. It's likely that the workforce can go across a long geographical location. So I think there's some increased competitiveness. A more competitive market for the skilled employees A different survey. Here we are having around 2000 respondents from JLL, a report they did in November, 2020. On the question, how many days a week would you want to work remotely after COVID-19? 50% wanting some sort of hybrid model. So where they're both in the office and outside. 26% prefer only being remote or somewhere else like outside the office and 24% in the office only. So interesting distribution here. To sum up on average, it was about 2.4 days a week, remote work. So around half the time. And how did the employers respond on this one? 30% say working remote. During the pandemic it's been great. Let's get rid of the entire office space. Eleven percent saying some employees who work remotely a significant amount of their time. 32%, the majority, saying we see that performance is not suffering. Let's increase the amount of remote work. Positive response for the requirement. And 17% saying we want it back. We want people back in the office as it was before. So an interesting distribution as well. So that indicator shows us that stuff is likely to change. With that premise, with that requirement', it gives us an increased focus on collaboration and flexibilities. If employees are not in the office all days a week. Why do we go there and how can you create that flexibility of managing a workforce that is not there every day? Should we have some hoteling where you come in and you have certain spaces where you book, desks, book rooms. Do we want to share offices? So can maybe if you're there 50% of time, why not? You just share an office with someone else. How can we personalize spaces for teams doing certain work, some projects. How can we accommodate that need of making it more personal once you're there? If you're not there as much. Cafe style seating coming up. Maybe thinking out of the box for open air conference areas. There's a lot of things about the architecture as well in the building. So if you ask, employees what will then be the purpose of an office? Why, are we going there? If we're not working remote and coming to the office, why should we do it? If you ask the employees we want to collaborate. That is the first need that the highest requirement, because it's, there are some things that are easier to collaborate about. Accessing equipment or documents securely on the second place. Meeting with clients or colleagues coming in third in this survey, this is again, the Price, Waterhouse, Cooper survey. Like that physical presence being important. And training and career development. If you ask the employers, that's interesting. We believe it's about increasing productivity. But when people at distance, then how do you make sure that they feel that coherence, that collaboration, that culture. The values that you want to have in your company Going a bit forward. JLL again. What's the purpose with an office? We see that what is most in demand about being in the office or what is best to do in the office? To manage or be supported by your management and to collaborate and run meetings. So those two needs are coming up first in this survey and then we have to solve work related issues and socialize and learn and grow coming in on the places after that. But even though that this data shows some different priority and some different rankings, I think it shows some quite significant similarities. It's about collaboration. It's about socializing. And it's about meeting clients. Some things are just required to have a physical presence. How about then centralizing and decentralizing the space? If we have a flexible workforce and we know we can work remote, why not establish smaller satellite offices to have our workforce avoid commuting. Having that closer to their home while still getting some place to collaborate and meet. But does that really fit that need and purpose that we looked at just before? If you are wanting to go there to socialize and meet your colleagues, if you want to go there to learn, if you want to go there to meet clients, is it enough to go to a smaller office where only some of your colleagues are and maybe your clients are not close to. Or is it better to have that central office still where everyone meets if they want to meet? I think there's some interesting contradictions in this topic here. There are both companies thinking about consolidating space while also de-centralizing. And the consolidation topic, especially, is something that we hear across the board and seeing many articles about companies saying we want to lower the amount of real estate. If people are not in the office all the time we don't need as much space. So we're thinking about cutting it down and then having people to share desks. Back to the need for hoteling. Back to the need for sharing spaces, for having flexibility. And for sharing rooms or areas.

Luke Schnoebelen:

I think that We've been an AskCody customer and rolled out AskCody during the pandemic. So we're in a really good spot because everyone is using the tool from home, getting familiar with it. But one thing I think will happen. And this is from our law firm perspective. We have 15 different offices. A lot of the support where normally we'd fly someone to a place to do a thing will now be done remotely. And I think space is going to get utilized in different ways. I've been reading so many articles about the office will never return to normal. I think it is going to return to normal. It's just more things happening in less space. And I also think those people that want the flexibility to work from home will be given that flexibility. In our law firm that really wasn't really an option for us. We had so many things happening in person, but there are certain roles that might make more sense to be remote. And I think that the last point I'd make how this would affect our office space. Specific to AskCody. One thing we'll be taking a closer look at is what is the space being used for.

Luke:

So instead of having a floor of 20 conference rooms and it's just meetings, meetings, meetings, I think it will help us prioritize how that space is used and make better decisions going forward.

Luke Schnoebelen:

I also think that people that present and go to meeting rooms, I think there needs to be a better. Blended experience of talking to the camera and the people in the room. Generally before the pandemic, it was just talking to the people in the room and maybe acknowledge the camera and, "Oh hello, everyone else joining abroad or wherever you are." "And we're just going to have a really fancy launch in this room and it's going to be great". "And I'm going to talk to me and many people in this room." And I think that's something that's going to be really hard is the cameras in the room are pretty much the same. There might be a bunch of Zoom people on the screen, but it's different when you're sitting in your couch or your living room or your kitchen talking to 50 people. Whereas you're talking to 50 people in a room and however many people on the camera. So audio and video experiences are, just as important I'd say. And how you present to them.

Rasmus Nielsen:

Yeah, that's a really good point. How can you use AskCody to help you in that journey of a different way of using the space? Here's some of the ideas and opportunities. First thing is our mobile app. It's a tool to book desks and rooms, if you're not at your laptop. We see that like with remote working, it makes sense to book a space in advance if you're not sure to have your desk. You don't have a designated desk. Then you don't want that bad surprise of having no desks when you show up at the office. However maybe you don't want to do that from your laptop. Maybe you are commuting already and want to book it from your mobile app, we give you the opportunity for that. We just see that as an alternative for putting up QR codes on the desks. Like you're able to just book it from your mobile And a good way to cater for finding that appropriate desk or room is to establish some kind of neighborhoods. So, that I know I can book a place where I'm sitting close to people that I need to collaborate with. As one in sales. It might make less sense if I sit close to someone in development. Or if I'm in finance, I want to sit close to my finance colleagues. I need to work with those people. And the different ways to do that with you could either do that by splitting locations. Different area names for the locations that might be just different areas on the same floor. So having the area or the type of work you're doing on the desk or the room itself. Now, also really especially these times where the pandemic is still upon us and knowing who has been in the office is paramount. If you need to track any outbreaks of disease. By having employees book a resource, book somewhere to be, you also have that information in Exchange. What you can also do is to set up a reception where the employees can actually check-in and that way we have that data See who has been checking in at a given point in time. So if Jane was so unlucky to catch COVID-19 and she was in the office Wednesday we can search for her in the system and find out which day she was in the office and start investigating and tracking. And also really used feature by many is to have guests fill out a form, confirming their healthiness confirming that they are without any symptoms of COVID-19. So many companies are not having the buffet style lunch anymore. Maybe the canteen is closed down, but we can still offer the opportunity to order individual meals either from our internal canteen or some external provider. And we also see that people find it useful to book extra cleaning of rooms. And you can use buffer time to make sure that there's space in sort of time between meetings for undertaking that One of the functionalities has been during the pandemic to lower capacity of rooms across locations. You can set a percentage which will then hit every resource across that location. If we set it on 50%, we've now lowered the capacity from 12 to six for this exact resource. So instead of changing every resource doing that for 50 of them, you can do it one place and you can control that capacity and you can slowly increase it. With regards to desks these times to ensure proper distancing, we also see that many are deactivating desks so that they cannot be booked so that you might only have every second desk available. And speaking of desks. What we also really find useful is the dashboard when coming to the office, signs can be very useful for employees to find out where they did book their desk. And if there's a desk available. Coming in here I can see that there's still two desks available and then grabbing the mobile app in my pocket. I can quickly book that desk and sit down. A really good tool for hoteling. So say you have a hundred desks and you have cleaning staff that needs to clean at the end of the day. You can search for what desks has been in use that day and print a list of the desks that need cleaning and the ones that don't need cleaning. So, what I would do would be to look at how my need for desks and rooms were before COVID. During COVID. And then I would take data into consideration when I designed the office after COVID to understand the need.

Lars Ørhøj:

That ends today's podcast on the future of workspace. I hope you found this excerpt of this webinar interesting for you, and I hope you can use it as inspiration for your own work in returning to the office. I know there's a lot of issues, complications, challenges involved in doing all this. But I really hope this has given you some ideas of topics you can work with in your own return to the office. I hope you'll be back for our next podcast on the future of workspace Have a great day.