Organizations across the globe are working to understand how the new normal and the post-COVID world will change the workplace. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate well-established workplace trends, it is becoming increasingly critical that organizations also recognize which of these trends will outlive the pandemic and which will likely result in a very different path going forward.
The following are six trends in the workplace that will likely outlive the COVID-19 crisis:
Trend 1: Smart Building Strategies Will Embrace Working from Home
As organizations spend more time away from the office, the increase in remote employees will continue to grow. A recent Gartner poll showed that 41% of employees would likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.
With the pandemic likely to continue, organizations will need to be prepared for the effects of this trend, including:
The uptick in employees working from home will have one obvious consequence: the emptying of the office. With so many workers now remote, what is to be done about the empty space?
Many companies are using this opportunity to move away from the giant workplaces, split their real estate offerings and allow more employees to work from home permanently. With less empty real estate and facilities, organizations can reap the benefits of less rent and less property tax.
The move to increased remote work should also have the lasting benefits of staff retention. With less money spent on real estate and rent, organizations should be able to weather the storm easier, allowing them to retain staff in the wake of even more remote work.
Increased Choice in Staff Hiring
Pivoting to remote workers can also open up significant opportunity beyond the pool of potential employees in the local area. This gives organizations more choice in hiring staff – especially since hiring decisions will no longer be quite so location-dependent.
Office of the Future
In the office of the future, technology will play a central role in enabling employees to return to office buildings and to work safely before a vaccine becomes widely available.
Organizations will need to manage which employees can come to the office, when they can enter and take their places, how often the office is cleaned, whether the airflow is sufficient and if they can remain sufficiently far apart as they move through the space.
To manage this, organizations will need to invest in a comprehensive workspace management tool.
Trend 2: Space Rationalization Will Be at the Top of Corporate Real Estate Agendas
Organizations are under pressure to craft space rationalization plans for the future and to figure out the following questions:
- How do we keep our office space safe?
- How do we keep our office spaces clean?
- How does this affect the workplace moving forward?
It is increasingly clear that the return to the office will be a dynamic process, with organizations dealing with potential flare-ups, reconfiguration of office and desk placement, and of course, increased awareness of hygiene and overall safety for employees.
Beyond the need for a safer environment comes the inevitable questions surrounding costs. With many companies downsizing their office or real estate space, what does that mean for corporate expenditures?
For one, it should lead to reduced portfolio and management costs. With more employees working out of the office and less space needed to operate, organizations can save costs in ways that do not affect their employees’ workflows.
Learn how Accruent solutions can help you manage your space rationalization.
Trend 3: Demand for Flexible Leases Will Continue to Grow
Before the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a growing demand for flexible leases. Many organizations have begun to use flexible leases as an opportunity to identify portfolio strategies and adjust space needs as the size of their businesses change.
A recent MCI report revealed that “average office lease length in Central London declined from 11.5 years in 2011 to 7.7 years in 2018.” Instead of being trapped in years long leases, organizations are opting to sign shorter lease contracts, lowering their obligations and allowing for greater financial flexibility.
With the pandemic now in full swing, the demand for flexible leases has only increased. According to JLL, an average office lease in the United States fell 15% in the first five months of 2020 to seven years – and it is likely to fall farther.
In a growing time of uncertainty, tenants are demanding more from their landlords, from increased amenities and services to better work-from-home capabilities. This is a trend that will continue through into the post-COVID world – it is better for lessors to be prepared now, rather than later.
Accruent’s Lx Lease Admin & Accounting solution offers powerful tools to manage your flexible leases.
Trend 4: New Office Will Focus on Culture and Collaboration
One thing that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted is the increased need for a collaborative corporate culture. People are worried – for their future and their well-being – and they want organizations to alleviate worries and provide a welcoming, “door is always open” culture shift.
A greater focus on culture will help employees feel more connected to their organizations’ mission and contribute to a stronger brand and public image. The pandemic has been difficult for many people, both in and out of the workplace, and brands with a strong image where they are proven to be reliable will make the most significant headway in the return to the office.
By engaging workers in team culture, organizations can create a culture of inclusiveness and well-being.
Trend 5: Retailers Will Transition to More Online Sales
The consumer movement from traditional brick and mortar stores to online shopping has been an ongoing development over the last decade and a half. But now, the coronavirus pandemic has turned the dial to ten. Online shopping has skyrocketed during the crisis, and it is up to diligent companies to keep up.
For organizations to succeed in a post-COVID world, they need to be able to capitalize on the steady growth of digital sales. For retail companies have gone almost entirely to an online model to compete with the likes of Amazon. Even grocery chains, long through to be one of the final bastions of brick and mortar stores, have increasingly pivoted to delivery services and online shopping.
It is critical to complete a thorough examination of your stores to revamp poorly performing locations and associated costs and losses. Find out where your trouble spots are and focus on what you can do to turn them into a modernized location. An increased focus on e-commerce platforms will only work to improve your overall resilience during any potential lockdowns or market shifts.
Do not understand why locations or warehouse are performing poorly? Accruent’s vx Maintain can help.
Trend 6: Groups Will Share Both Risk and Reward in Lease Agreements
In the post-COVID world, the relationship between landlords and tenants will undoubtedly change – but it does not have to be for the worse.
With an increase in worldwide unemployment, tenants all over have struggled to pay their rents – leaving both tenant and landlord to feel the pinch of financial strains. Many states and nations have provided eviction relief or moratoriums, allowing tenants to breathe easier. However, this relief has not always been offered to the landlords themselves, who have still had to contend with additional costs including property taxes, insurance, maintenance and even mortgage payments.
The end result? It is increasingly likely that leases and relationships between tenant and landlord will grow more collaborative, allowing each to assume broader risks but also broader rewards. Tenants will gain numerous means to renegotiate their leases, while landlords will gain greater guarantees and security. The options for collaborative, negotiable agreements are growing – it is simply up to both to take advantage of their opportunity.
Manage the intricacies of your lease agreements and avoid potential traps with Accruent’s Lx Lease Admin & Accounting solution.
Success in a Post-COVID Workplace
As companies worldwide work to reimagine the workplace, it is critical to get ahead of oncoming trends now, rather than when they have become evident and commonplace. The post-COVID world presents an opportunity for the most dynamic, forward-thinking companies to gain an advantage and reinvent themselves for the world ahead.
Ultimately, the organization that can levy its real estate possibilities, bolster its corporate culture and maintains profits is the organization that will succeed.
To learn more about managing a safe return to work, visit our ‘Return to Work’ resource hub.