What does Beyond COVID look like in 2021?
As workplaces have adapted to COVID-safe practices, questions have been asked about the future of the traditional office environment. Workplace design company Evoke Projects looks ahead to 2021 and the impact COVID will have on commercial fit-outs, workplace design and the employee experience. In particular, the trend towards “Hub and Spoke” working will be examined.
Does COVID mean the end of commercial office spaces?
Quite simply, no. Commercial office fit-outs still provide an opportunity for flexible and versatile office spaces that can be scaled up and down. Buildings have capacity for multiple work zones – e.g. collaborative, quiet and breakout – so people can work in the place where they feel most comfortable and productive. Additionally, a generous sized commercial fit-out makes it easier to physically distance, which will be invaluable in 2021 for companies that rely on office-based staff.
While commercial office fit-outs will continue to evolve towards COVID-safe normal, working from home will also be part of our occupational landscape. Even if a vaccine is found, employees and businesses have seen the benefits of remote working. According to the Buffer 2020 State of Remote Work Report, the top benefits of remote working were a flexible schedule, the ability to work from any location, and no more commuting.1
However, there are challenges. The report also found that unplugging from work (to divide personal and professional time) was difficult for 22% of people. Loneliness, missed collaboration and communication, distractions and staying motivated were other downsides.
Given that full-time remote work will rarely support an employee to be their most productive selves, companies are moving towards workplace solutions that provide the best of both worlds. In discussions with clients, Evoke Projects has seen The Hub and Spoke model trending as the most popular workplace design strategy for 2021.
What is the Hub and Spoke workplace design model?
Hub and Spoke workplace design is not new. Think international head office “hub” and smaller regional office “spokes”, like a bicycle wheel. Post COVID, the Hub and Spoke design strategy has simply incorporated more spokes:
- Regional and/or suburban offices
- Home offices
- Co-working spaces
Employees commute to the hub when they need to collaborate with a large group of co-workers for meetings, conferences or training. They work from home, maybe 2-3 days per week, for good quality focus time. Other days, they attend regional offices or suburban offices for smaller meetings and team collaboration. Those who crave human company or need more defined home and work spaces can also use a co-working location instead of a home office.
At a business management level, productivity potential will dictate who is where, doing what and when. Work zones and activity based working have improved productivity over the years – the Hub and Spoke office design will build on that foundation. Rather than just choosing where to work within the office, employees will be able to choose from multiple locations.
More competitive commercial property market in 2021 and beyond
COVID has undoubtedly been a disruptor to the traditional landlord/tenant relationship and balance of power. Landlords and commercial property owners will need to innovate and offer more flexible office fit-out options. Future lease terms are likely to become shorter as commercial tenants demand flexibility.
With potentially 50-70% of employees not going into the hub on any one day, businesses will look to reduce real estate costs where they can. As leases expire, the commercial property market will become more competitive.
Hubs and regional offices with the best amenities (e.g. gyms, outdoor spaces, cafés) will be the most attractive options for tenants and the best investments for landlords.
Physical environment and the employee experience
The Hub and Spoke model provides the best of both worlds to both employers and employees. In the ongoing quest for top talent, empowering people to work where they feel most productive has a myriad of benefits:
- People feel safe and not overcrowded
- Teams can collaborate effectively increasing creativity and motivation
- Individuals will achieve a better work-life balance without the daily commute
- “A change is as good as a rest”
- Well-being at work is improved through all of the above
Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about Hub and Spoke workplace designs and office fit-outs.