Published on:

12 November 2020

Updated on:

15 December 2023

Read time:

5 minutes

Cyril Parsons

Managing Director

As we move towards the end of what has been the most challenging of years for the world, it looks like we can finally hope to see the dust settle in the New Year.

In 2021, we'll have the chance to adapt to the changes that 2020 imposed upon us and to reframe how we visualise the concept of work.

From makeshift desks in the home to Zoom calls in pyjamas, there is much that marks office life in 2020 and the physical office, that we get suited and booted for and commute to, most definitely doesn't figure on the list.

The great shift

The move to working from home shifted the dynamic irrevocably, flipping around where certain emphases rest and rendering the office of yesterday largely obsolete.

We were forced to make changes to our working lives and, for many of us, this evoked some positive change. We were put in a position in which we contemplated what works best for us as individuals and many office workers came to the conclusion that they'd like to work more from home in the long-term, post-pandemic limitations, as a result.

Part-time working from home is now not just a desirable lifestyle choice but an easily achievable goal that can have a positive impact on health and well-being as life is approached at a more even pace. This change to our working psyche has been confirmed through national surveys, with reports revealing that 88 percent of people want to work from home at least two days per week.

As the year has unfolded, the message has come through, loud and clear: The work from home culture is an integral part of the way we want to work going forward and, as such, it should be embraced by businesses and organisations, acknowledging the need to align themselves with the needs of the workforce.

The movement is now afoot!

A survey, conducted in October by the Institute of Directors, revealed that almost 75 percent of the company directors who took part said that they would be increasing home-working after coronavirus. More than half of those said that they would be reducing their long-term use of workplaces and more than a fifth stated that their usage would be significantly lower.

Working from home works

Apart from the autonomy, it has given individual workers over their leisure and family time, and the eradication of stresses caused by the grind of the daily commute, one of the major pluses of working from home during periods of lockdown is that it does actually work.

Once we got used to the new way of working and the technology required to stay connected, the impact on output has largely been shown to be the same - if not slightly improved. Those fore-mentioned surveys conducted during lockdown indicated that approximately two thirds of employees recognised that they were being more productive while working from home.

What's more, many businesses carried on functioning as normal outside of the office environment and got used to it. And so, given that it has been proven and we now know working from home can work very well, the path has been laid out for true flexibility going forward.

Tailored design for a looser style of working

At Office Principles, we refer to this as Freedom Working.

The concept behind the movement of Freedom Working is that the future of work is hybrid. The office itself has already ceased to be an inevitable part of every working day and its presence can and will be repurposed.

While the individual desk resides at home, the office is now for sharing. Its new purpose incorporates the sharing of knowledge, collaboration, and social purposes.

In the future, the tailored business design will be essential to make these spaces fit for purpose as agile office design will have a different front depending on the company, its ethos, its employees, and its sector.

Freedom working will be behind all agile office design and will herald a more diverse and creative, individual range of higher concept spaces that will each create an experience for the user to enjoy. The pandemic has propelled us towards a more free, flexible working regime far quicker than any of us could have predicted. The key, now, is to calibrate our office design accordingly.

Meet the Author

A founding partner of Office Principles, Cyril has over 30 years’ experience in workplace design and has been instrumental in the success of the business and its positioning as a leading workplace consultancy. An author of white papers and a renowned industry speaker, who regularly hosts his own popular seminars and webinars, thought leader Cyril’s book on office relocation and fit out, The Black Book, is currently on its fourth edition.