Workforce 4.0

5 Questions to Ask About
Brick-and-Mortar Workplaces

Who wants to come into the office these days? At first glance, it may seem like very few do. Among employees, 95% prefer remote or hybrid arrangements over coming into work every day, according to a Work Insights Survey by FlexJobs.

Thus, it’s no surprise that many companies are looking to reduce office footage. While there may not be a need for as much space, it’s also valid that workers do enjoy connecting. Among Gen Z employees, for instance, 74% prefer interacting with coworkers face to face, according to the findings of the Remote Work & Compensation Pulse Survey released by Apollo Technical.

Offices may still exist in the coming years, but their design and function are set to be reimagined. Companies can start by considering their current situation. They’ll also want to gather employees’ preferences to map out a space suited for tomorrow’s needs.

Ask the following questions to guide your discussions on the future of the workplace:

1. How do we use our office spaces?

Do workers come in every day to work? Are there many empty desks or conference rooms? Leases are often long-term, and it may be helpful to think about how much square footage will be needed after the current arrangement ends. Consider the option of floating desks, and individual desks that could be booked for people who come in on a regular basis, such as three days a week.

2. What is the distribution of our workforce?

Are all employees located in the same city? Do some work from other regions or countries? In addition to thinking through current numbers, evaluate growth levels. Will new workers be hired in the coming years, and if so, how will they connect? Is there enough space for them if in-person meetings are held? Plan ahead but avoid booking office space for more than five years if possible. Ask for flexible terms with the landlord to accommodate growing needs.

3. What do our employees want?

While widespread trends point to remote and hybrid arrangements, there are also nuances to consider for each industry and niche. Companies focused on creativity and innovation may find that face-to-face gatherings inspire and motivate workers. Being together could help them brainstorm, listen to the ideas that others bring, and come up with new solutions.

In-person gatherings still hold significant value for human connection and employee engagement within organizations. Spaces that provide room for various types of interactions, gamification, and social or team-building activities can help to build relationships. Also consider supporting commuter expenses, such as covering the cost of public transportation or providing parking spaces.

4. What purpose will our office serve?

Is a conference room needed for regular client meetings? Will employees be looking to gather once a week, or more often, to collaborate on projects? Will they eat lunch or to take a break together? Even in settings with a high percentage of remote workers, there could be benefits to having space available. Small, satellite offices could allow employes to come in and focus. Workers with roommates or a full household may appreciate the chance to have a quiet environment. Coworking spaces could be an option in some city settings.

5. How can we optimize our spaces?

If a current lease is in place, there could still be ways to maximize the room, even if workers don’t come in every day. Sub-letting the space to another business might be possible in some cases. Part of the workplace could be repurposed in the meantime for company or community events.

By answering these questions, companies can better navigate the shifting landscape of the office. Gaining feedback from employees may be helpful as new arrangements are made. Providing balance for workers could help them make the most of their days, wherever they are.

Gerard Szatvanyi

Author: Gerard Szatvanyi

As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.