If work really is a thing you do rather than a place you go, where does that leave the office?
For the last few weeks, WSP has been exploring the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic may change the places where many of us spent so much of our lives, from how physical distancing will affect workplace culture, to the technicalities of virus-proofing the office environment, to whether there will still be so much demand for commercial space in a post-Covid world.
Mass working from home during the lockdown has given us a new perspective on the office, and perhaps the most fundamental shift is that going there will now be a conscious decision. For decades, offices have enjoyed an unquestioned status as the default location for knowledge work, places that we could – and sometimes did – go to with our eyes closed.
Over the coming months and years, individuals and organizations will make their own assessments about the role and value of a dedicated workplace, and they may reach very different conclusions. But one thing is for sure: if we decide that the office is still important – for productivity, for collaboration, for identity – it will have to become a destination of choice.
Successful offices of the future may have more in common with retail or entertainment venues that compete for every visit by offering a compelling, constantly evolving experience. We need to eliminate the barriers or frictions that make offices uncomfortable or unpopular, enhance and complement the positive, and go beyond to add some intangible chemistry or magic that lures people in and keeps them coming back time and time again.
Could an office ever inspire that most potent of 21st-century emotions, “fear of missing out”? We’ve compiled a seven-point plan to help it get there.