Updated: Mar 1
The office experience as we know it is changing due to COVID-19, Gen Z, and fast-paced technological advancement. What we think of as a “normal” office space is quickly transforming into a new, modern environment for us to work. While 2020 has brought us many changes, we must remember that change is what keeps us going. We have learned, adapted, and welcomed changes to our office experience that have made us grow. In the long run, what we have learned will help us make the right decisions in the future, and it will drive us to create a better office experience for everyone.
What remains a vital part of the office experience is the connection to the workplace family. Both employers and employees deeply value the relationships that are made in the workplace, as those are the relationships that keep the office running. The people who work at the office are the spirit and drive behind a company’s name, brand and reputation. This aspect of the office experience is something that needs permanency – and will have it, thanks to technology.
COVID-19 has forced many employers to allow remote work, and for quite an extensive period of time. This was originally considered to be a negative change, but in light of how 2020 has gone, there are plenty of both employers and employees who have observed the positive aspects of remote work.
Due to COVID-19, more and more people feel comfortable using technology to collaborate with their coworkers. We can expect more technology-inspired projects and positions to melt into our “normal” office experience. Connecting with someone across the country is possible at the push of a button, and this connection being so casual impacts office communication as a whole. Our technology keeps the workplace family alive and thriving because connecting with each other is easier than ever.
Technology is the key driving force behind a modernized office experience. Without technology, our current office experience would not be possible. We are growing accustomed to Zoom conference calls, Google Drive document sharing, FaceTime calls, interface learning, Facebook Live product promotion; the list goes on. Technology makes remote work possible and has allowed many of us to work from home during COVID-19. Our future depends on what technology will be able to do in the years to come and what kinds of advancements it will bring to the workplace.
In the Internet Association 2019 update, it was found that the internet is the fourth largest sector in the U.S., creating 6 million director jobs and more than $2 trillion in GDP in 2018. “The U.S. internet industry is an American success story that’s creating jobs in every sector of the economy,” said IA Chief Economic Christopher Hooton. “Over the last decade it’s quadrupled in size, jumping from a top 20 industry to the top four in a matter of years. It continues to be a primary driver of our economy, both in terms of jobs and output – and will be for the foreseeable future.” So, not only is technology increasing our abilities to connect in the workforce, but it is also increasing the number of jobs that exist. Technology is also enabling new forms of entrepreneurial activity. Owners of and employees at small businesses can reap the benefits of online earning opportunities. People who are self-employed are also benefitting from clients they are able to do work for online.
Gen Z’s Impact on Office Changes
Gen Z is quickly changing our workplace in more ways than we realize. This generation has never lived in a world without technology and deeply values what technology can bring to the workplace. They are quickly negating what a traditional 9 to 5 cubicle job has to offer and are looking towards the future of the office environment.
Not only does Gen Z want remote work options, but they want a pleasing workspace aesthetic. They want natural lighting, open workspaces and the modern technology tools they need to do a good job.
All of these societal changes have paved the way for new designs across the workplace. Driven by technology and new expectations from younger generations, these designs are transforming our office experience in an exciting way. Because of COVID-19, companies are eliminating real estate and putting more money into making the physical space experiential.
Many companies are intentionally incorporating social settings into the office, which are designed for coworkers to get to know each other in a relaxed way. This setting could be a family-style kitchen or a café inspired lounge space. For example, a company called FirstRand features a jukebox in their breakout area to provide some background tunes while employees unwind over a game of ping pong. This boosts employee morale and creates a new atmosphere. Creating a connection with coworkers is an essential part of the office experience, and by implementing social settings in the office, companies are acknowledging that.
A Space for More Than Just Work
The new office experience is not about functionality, it is about creating a work of art that is designed for more than just work. Creative interior design, architecture, colors, and textures spark creativity, turning the workplace into a catalyst for new and better work. Making offices into a work of art not only attracts top talent, but impresses new clients and inspires employees. The office is no longer a workspace – it is a life space. The possibilities are endless when you start thinking of the office as a place where life happens, not just work. These added perks can be the deciding factor for prospective employees and shows customers that the company cares about their employees.