Where, Oh Where Will I Work Now?
Beginning in late 2019 the COVID19 pandemic has radically changed work patterns for knowledge workers in the developed economies. The once traditional central office where people gathered to work in the same place at the same time became largely vacant.
Alternative work locations became the norm with ‘work at home’ being the most prevalent. Work travel declined precipitously. “Co-working” locations also declined in popularity spurred on with the collapse of the fantasy “We-Work” facilities.
There is an old saying about asking three economists for predictions and you get five answers. The same appears to be true of professionals concerned with corporate real estate, facilities managers, and workplace designers. While the final answer is far from settled given the fluidity of ongoing events (like the Delta variant), some broad outlines of the future work locations are emerging.
After a brief review of existing literature, we conducted a small data collection effort among professionals in the Community Design Institute network. Here are our results.
Not surprisingly, the largest projected changes will be the decrease on same place/same time central office locations. Also a corresponding increase in ‘work at home’ time. Business travel will continue to be impacted as we adapt to fewer conferences, exhibitions, and branch office visits. While co-working (same time/different place) will see a large increase it will still be dwarfed by work at home. Vaccinations mandates and social distancing will inhibit this option well into 2022, if not longer.
We see three strategic workplace foresight implications here:
- Include HR, IT and Facilities leadership in the re-working design effort
- Conduct an environmental scan to account for organizational cultural factors BEFORE re-thinking your workplace portfolio
- Optimize the workflow BEFORE implementing changes
This is part of a continual applied research effort by CDI. We will post more findings and analyses as they become available. If you have a specific question or concern reach out to us.
It’s a workplace jungle out there… Take us out Bruce