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The standard office was already changing, but when COVID hit in early 2020 it only accelerated the process.  While many predicted work from home initiatives would be the death of the traditional office, a new survey by the Harvard Business Review predicts that the results may not be quite so severe.

While yes, fewer individual man hours will now be spent in the office, that does not make the overall space any less necessary.  The Harvard Business Review predicts that there will be an overall thirty percent reduction in “days on-site” for employees, however there will only be a reduction of 1 to 2 percent in total office space.  Even though employees aren’t spending every day on site, they will still need a site to be on when they do go into the office.

The HBR’s survey sees three reasons for why this may be occurring.

Office Density

Workers are now much more concerned with office density, because it makes them uncomfortable.  People tend to dislike crowds around their desks and this issue is only exacerbated by pandemic concerns.  The only way to reduce density without reducing total square footage is to cut total days on site for each individual employee.

Hybrid Schedules

The introduction of hybrid scheduling has helped to mitigate the aforementioned density issues.  Hybrid work schedules were already gaining in popularity before COVID and that trend has only increased as people have begun to experience this shift for themselves.  Due to increased competition in labor markets, employers are starting to be more receptive to these types of schedules.  But as we mentioned before, even if people aren’t coming into the office five days a week anymore, they still need an office to come into when they do.

Evolving Office Design Trends

Employers are trying to reshape the office environment to a more inviting, social space that encourages employees to interact and collaborate with one another.  In a bid to attract more and better talent, employers are dumping the traditional cubicle based designs of the past and integrating not just more open seating areas, lounges, and collaboration spaces, but also new types of spaces like hybrid conference rooms for teleconferencing with remote participants or sound proof booths for more private interactions.  The modern office may be changing, but it’s not going anywhere.

To read more follow this link to the original Harvard Business Review article.