June 10, 2022

What will be the “new normal”

for workplaces?

For many companies, the last couple of years have been a serious balancing act. In the wake of global shutdowns, we’ve had to navigate changing policies around how and when businesses operate, and how to manage talent in the face of ongoing uncertainty. And while a lot of things seem to be getting “back to normal,” one thing that’s still up in the air is what the new normal will be for workplaces?

Because despite businesses pushing to get workers back in office, there’s been a fair amount of resistance to the idea. A recent S&P analysis, for example, says that we should still expect around 25% of workers to be at least partially work-from-home, and that even after the pandemic is long gone, we might be looking at 10-12% of the workforce still being fully remote.

Looking at it from the other side, security firm Kastle pointed out last month that average office occupancy across ten major US metros, including Washington, is still only around 40%, following a rapid drop-off during Omicron. And while, their data shows a clear, albeit slow, upwards trajectory – the question that really springs to mind here is: What are companies doing to drive employee eagerness for being back in the office?

Return-to-work incentives

One of the biggest incentives, according to S&P, is simply to allow workers a hybrid option right out the gate. And while in many cases this means a smaller overall office footprint, it’s counterbalanced by the trend of having a higher number of collaborative, social spaces in the workplace.

There’s also a developing trend towards upping the ante in terms of what the office itself offers. When office life includes perks like free meals, social events, amenities and focus spaces, people are more likely to give up the comforts of home for the experience of an improved workspace.

Or, as Tyler Marshall, WLS Assistant Vice President, puts it:  “If you’re trying to make people enthusiastic about your office space, you need to create an environment that’s worth being enthusiastic about. If the workplace itself is vibrant, people are going to want to come into office, and they’re going to be more productive and have higher job satisfaction overall when they do.”

A rock-solid Workplace Strategy

As the working world shifts to accommodate this new direction, companies are increasingly being called on to be proactive about workplace design. It’s an idea that we at West, Lane & Schlager (WLS) has championed for a long time, and we’re excited to help our clients gain traction in this new landscape.

One of the major value-adds we bring to our clients is our detailed and thoughtful approach to helping develop a Workplace Strategy that works for them. We’ve had over 25 years to develop this expertise and we take pride in using that knowledge to build a strategy tailored to each companies’ unique situation.

With a plan in-place, the focus can shift from surviving changing office conditions to building a thriving business in the midst of them.