Allwork.Space spoke with Tim Mok, Director of Strategy at TPG Architecture, to understand the changes coming our way as teams become increasingly distributed.
Remote work has been on the rise for the past couple of years. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift towards remote work.
All aspects of work have been impacted by this shift, including the workplace itself.
Tim Mok, Director of Strategy at TPG Architecture, believes that ”the implications of COVID-19 will be meaningful not only in how we consider our individual health care but also in how people occupy space and the reasons for doing so.”
Many believe that once the pandemic is over, we will not go back to the office — at least not full-time. Rather, as organizations and employees alike realize the benefits of working remotely, this type of arrangement is expected to become the norm in a post-coronavirus world.
Naturally, this will have huge implications on workplace design, which is why organizations should be open-minded about how workplace design may shift and evolve in the coming months.
Allwork.Space spoke with Tim Mok to better understand some of the changes that the workplace may go through as teams become increasingly distributed. Below are the highlights of our conversation.
Allwork.Space: Remote work has been on the rise for the past couple of years. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to accelerate the transition to remote work now and in the future. How will this shift impact workplace design?
Tim Mok: While there have been several trends on multiple ends of the spectrum of fixed vs. remote working (e.g. workplaces designed to bring employees to a central office, to distributed satellite offices, or back to their homes to work remotely), the COVID-19 pandemic will impact workplace design by providing a real, lived-through example of a business continuity event forcing employees to be as far away from each other as possible.
Some organizations will rethink their real estate allocations based on which teams would truly benefit from being on-site, or in close proximity with each other vs. what other teams could operate remotely at the same level of in-office effectiveness.
We will likely see a more dramatic push for flexible seating and furniture to accommodate teams that are remote most days of the week, in addition to providing some level of social distancing should certain populations require that method in future pandemics.
Allwork.Space: Do you believe private offices will have a comeback following the coronavirus pandemic, even among distributed or remote teams?
In reality, private offices or enclosed spaces for individuals have continued to be a part of workplace design. While some recent publications have touted the end of the private office, a truly balanced and effective work environment is responsive to various employee work patterns and features a mix of open and enclosed spaces for both individuals and teams.
Thus, it is probable that private offices may have a new type of value in addition to supporting heads down or confidential work by becoming spaces that are more conducive to managing pandemics.
Allwork.Space: What are some key areas of design that you believe companies will need to focus on as teams increasingly work remotely? Why?
Two types of design will be critical – organizational and workplace.
From an organizational design perspective, companies will need to think about the tools, processes, and work culture that can be the foundation for teams to be productive and effective when either increasing their remote working or having all team members work remotely at once.
From a workplace design perspective, companies will need to consider what spaces, furniture, and layouts best accommodate part or most of a workforce that will have to work remotely at the drop of a hat in case of future pandemics.