The New Corporate Workplace

The way we work has constantly changed throughout generations. Although most of these changes had happened gradually, the most recent ones have been pushed pretty quickly upon us with the sudden emergence of the pandemic, and it looks like they are here to stay. That is, at least for the foreseeable future. The biggest changes have been the significant impact on the job market, the popularising of working from home and the changes of priorities for the employees. Therefore, some things that have been a struggle before no longer cause issues in the workplace and have been replaced by other, newfound problems, on both, the employer and employee sides. In this article, we explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the corporate workplace and what these effects mean for the employer and the employees.

Key Highlights

  • The focus of employees has shifted primarily to the factors of well-being and flexibility in the workplace. 
  • In addition to physical health, the rise of mental health awareness has also taken a rise during the pandemic.
  • Flexibility is sought after because when employees get to choose the days they want to work from home and the office, they gain benefits such as saved time. 
  • Instead of cramped offices, cubicles, and assigned desks, the new post-pandemic corporate office now takes its inspiration from and begin to resemble coworking spaces with a focus on collaborative space. 
  • The answer to adapting to the post-pandemic workplace lies in technology.
  • Despite the popularity of the hybrid workstyle, the amount of cars on the road and parking occupancy has not seen a drastic decrease partly due to the fact that personal vehicles are safer than public transportation.
  • Employers can adapt their parking facilities to the way people travel to work by creating shared parking spaces in their company parking lots. 
  • Smart desk systems are gaining popularity within the hybrid work system because they enable desk sharing and for desks to be available for booking by employees prior to coming to the workplace.

What do corporate employees look for in the post-pandemic workplace?

Two priorities that have arisen for employees amidst the global pandemic are the factors of well-being and flexibility. Working from home was quite uncommon prior to the pandemic, but when lockdown ensued, and people were forced to work this way, many realised they prefer to work from home and that they are as productive as if they would be in the office, which gave way to the change of priorities and expectations. 

Being in good health became a huge concern for people as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it will stay with them, which means people are a lot more cautious about their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Tools such as touchless soap and hand sanitiser dispensers, air cleaners and HVAC filters, voice-activated trash bins, foot-operated elevators, conference room booking systems and antimicrobial buttons are no longer just ways to boost the innovation factor of an office but steps to keeping employees safe and feeling comfortable in the workplace. 

In addition to physical health, the rise of mental health awareness has also taken a rise during the pandemic. The lockdown keeping people indoors and away from their family and friends, as well as the necessity to quarantine, has taken a serious toll on people’s mental health and brought to the surface the need for employers to take into consideration not just the physical health of employees, but the mental health as well. Some corporations have begun putting the mental health of their employees first, not only providing them with mental health benefits but also taking active steps to prevent burnout and even switching to a four-day workweek. Although this is not very common, it shows a switch in the way corporations operate and it is slowly gaining popularity as it is what employees are beginning to look for and expect.

The factor of well-being is also tied into the sought after flexibility, which lets the employee choose whether or not they wish to work from home or the office, and if they do want to work from the office to have the choice when and how often they do that. If someone feels uncomfortable working at the office due to the risk of getting sick, the promised flexibility will allow them to stay home and work from there. 

In addition to safety, the flexibility of choosing from what place you want to work gives other benefits, such as saving time and money on commuting to and from work, the ability to make a homecooked meal or run an errand during the workday, go on a workcation and work from a beach or mountain cabin and for working parents, the ability to spend time with their children and be more present in their lives in comparison to wasting time in rush hours.

How do post-pandemic offices look?

As the way we work has changed, so does the way a company’s office looks. With the hybrid workstyle becoming the norm in many workplaces, and it probably being an option offered by more employers in the future, the layout and design of offices are adapting to fit this new workstyle. 

Since there are fewer people at the office on a daily basis and the rise of online collaboration and meetings, the pre-pandemic office layout and design is outdated. Instead of cramped offices, cubicles, and assigned desks, the new post-pandemic corporate office now takes its inspiration from and begin to resemble coworking spaces. Because one of the main reasons an employee comes to their office after adapting to the hybrid workstyle is to collaborate with their coworkers, the conference rooms have taken on additional importance. That leads companies to rely on technology more than ever before. Smart systems for online booking of conference rooms, air purifiers, high-resolution screens and other equipment for calls with clients and coworkers are all the focus of redesigned offices. 

In addition to upgraded conference rooms, there is also a new change in the general layout of the office. Since not every single employee comes to work every single day, the need for cubicles and assigned desks is eliminated. Instead, there is more open space for collaboration, shared spaces and small workstations that encourage collaboration.

With the rising focus on the wellbeing and mental health of employees, some companies aim to create a more relaxed work environment with plants, artworks, designated “chill-out” zones and other spaces to wind down in-between completing tasks. This is also a way to create an atmosphere that aims to resemble the comfort of a home in order to ease the switch from working from home to working in the office, as well as encourage employees to come to the office more often.

Commuting to work in post-pandemic times

As much as it altered other aspects of working, the pandemic also had an impact on the way people travel to work. Although more people are working from home and travelling less to the office, the amount of cars on the road and parking occupancy has not seen a drastic decrease. This is partly due to the hybrid workstyle, which sometimes means coming into the office during the day and only staying for a few hours, as well as the concern of safety when using public transportation. Despite wanting to be sustainable, people feel more comfortable and safe with a smaller chance of coming in contact with any virus when travelling in their own car as opposed to taking buses, trams and the metro. 

Employers can adapt their parking facilities to the way people travel to work by similarly to creating open spaces inside the office, creating shared parking spaces and offering a sort of democracy at the company parking lot. Since there is also a rise of people owning electric vehicles, corporations can offer EV charging stations at their facilities to accommodate those employees who have those types of vehicles and even encourage those who don’t to purchase one, which will, in turn, have a more positive impact on the environment. 

If you’d like to read more about corporate parking lot trends during the pandemic, check out: https://blog.naviparking.com/2021/03/25/the-new-normal-of-corporate-parking/

What can employers do to improve the post-pandemic work environment?

While at the beginning of the first lockdown many people lost their jobs, now recruiters in charge of finding skilled professionals to fit vacancies, particularly in the IT sector have to work hard to make a company stand out and be the one a candidate chooses to work at. This is partly due to the changes of expectations and priorities of people in the job market. In order to address and meet the needs of employees, employers need to be aware of these needs. Although the most efficient way to do this is to communicate openly in the workplace, there are a few trends that show how the workplace and the employee’s approach to the workplace are changing that will allow employers to meet the needs of their employees and even anticipate those of future candidates. At the beginning of this article, two common priorities of employees that arose during the pandemic were highlighted. These were safety and flexibility. In addition to extending mental health and healthcare benefits and offering as much flexibility when it comes to working from home and the office as possible, the answer to adapting to the post-pandemic workplace lies in technology.

The above mentioned upgraded conference rooms consisting of systems for online booking of conference rooms, air purifiers, high-resolution screens and other equipment for high-quality Zoom calls are incredibly beneficial to have. However, the innovation to solve additional problems that come up doesn’t stop there. With the hybrid workstyle, the way an office layout changes. Often, part of this change is replacing assigned desks with unassigned ones and more shared and open spaces intended for collaboration. Although this makes sense from an employer’s standpoint, many employees prefer to have an assigned desk waiting for them when they arrive at the office in the morning, giving them the guarantee that they will have their own, comfortable place to work. This problem can be solved with a smart desk system that will enable a set amount of desks to be assigned for those who come to the office on a daily basis and the rest to be available for booking prior to coming to the workplace.

In addition to a smart booking system for desks, the same can be offered by employers at the company parking facility. Finding a parking space to leave their car has been a significant problem for many corporate employees, which still exists for some, but at other corporations has been replaced with the issue of unoccupied parking spaces making companies lose money. The solution for both lies in flexible parking solutions for corporate parking lots. By installing smart technology at the parking lot and giving employees a parking application and parking administrators a parking web portal, the struggles related to parking are eliminated. Employees can seamlessly enter and exit the parking facility, book parking spaces in advance and be informed about the availability of parking spaces in real-time, while parking administrators can monitor, have access to data and generate reports that will allow them to make smarter business decisions regarding parking. And similar to smart systems for conference rooms, a certain amount of parking spaces can be assigned while the rest can be shared and available for booking. When employees do not need to circle the parking lot looking for an available parking space because they have one reserved, this also has a positive effect on their mental health and wellbeing, eliminating unnecessary stress. Additionally, parking solutions allow corporations to monetise their vacant parking spaces by allowing the public to access their facilities through a parking application to increase revenue. 

To find out about our Smart Parking Solutions for corporations, visit:https://naviparking.com/services/shared-parking 

To raise the innovation level of their parking lot, companies can install EV charging stations at their parking facilities to be used by employees who will be encouraged to purchase electric vehicles, meaning they will be able to contribute to the smart city ecosystem. By deploying a smart parking system that includes renting and paying for EV charging stations, the company can also monetise them and increase its revenue. 

Klaudia Żychowska

Klaudia Żychowska is a Polish native who grew up in Chicago. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Professional Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she decided to move back to Poland to reconnect with her roots. She is fascinated by smart cities and innovative technologies and is responsible for content strategy at NaviParking.

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