If we’re completely honest, even before the Corona pandemic began there were a number of unanswered questions about how the work environment of the future should look. And then, at unprecedented speed, a cultural change occurred at every level: we now greet each other with an extended elbow instead of shaking hands, there are no more business trips in our diaries, and working remotely is no longer the exception but the rule.
The lack of commuter traffic has led to a significant reduction in congestion in our towns and cities, the bicycle is experiencing a revival and the environment is showing its gratitude with improved air quality. Space is being freed up, and the sense of responsibility for ourselves and towards others is growing – indeed, the list of changes and opportunities could go on ad infinitum. We’re beginning to hear talk of the new normal, but the unsolved issues of the past have not vanished into thin air. Quite the opposite: the office per se is now under very close scrutiny.
The new normal is truly an opportunity, but it’s something we’ll have to work hard towards. What ought we to retain from the time before the pandemic? What do we want to dispense with? And what should we already have done a long time ago?
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
Arundathi Roy, in: Financial Times, 03/04/2020
We, in any case, are convinced that the company office is going to play a decisive role in the future. But: it’s going to become both more important and less important at the same time. Self-determination, digitalization, sustainability and well-being now characterize how we experience working from home and in third places; consequently, there is an increasing need for a clear profile of the company office as a central gathering point. People are no longer prepared to make compromises after having proved their flexibility and dependability in an acute period of crisis.
It would therefore be wise for the new company workplace to use the same quality standards as guidance that we apply to our private lives these days: the smart integration of digital products and services, the use of sustainable materials and products – and a healthy work environment that features a multitude of usage possibilities. This would place the company office on equal footing with many other options, and everyone working there will find the things they need most for the task at hand:
Places to concentrate that you simply won’t find to the same extent at home. Communication areas that enable really creative exchange, and where the small gestures are noticed, unlike in video conferences. A place that provides maximum protection and a high degree of comfort, and which, because of the change in location, underscores the boundaries between the working day and leisure time. Genuine employer branding, if you will.
The new office has evolved perfectly. It is better connected, allows for the smart combination of face-to-face and virtual encounters, ventilation and air conditioning are state of the art, real-time data provide an overview of the available workspaces, tools and equipment. And all of a sudden, distance is no longer a nightmare; on the contrary, it’s a sign of quality. By F A R the best.
What do we need for it? Foresight. The will to change. Energy. Reliable partners. The investment will be worth it in many respects, because the need for digitalization, sustainability, powers of innovation and well-being will finally have been fulfilled. That’s what we call future ready. Let’s get started.