After 12 months of homeworking, the continuing rollout of the Coronavirus vaccine and the unveiling of a post-lockdown roadmap has given businesses renewed hope that they can get back to some semblance of the 'normal' they experienced pre-March 2020. While some people may feel apprehensive at the prospect of returning to the physical office, many others can't wait to return, citing that they feel 'disconnected' and 'fatigued' working away from their company's place of business.

If your company is considering an office refurbishment – whether that's a few small changes to comply with COVID-safe regulations, or you want to include some much-needed operational changes – the team here at Oaktree Interiors can offer the advice you need to ensure that you get the most from your project. Continuing our recent series of blogs on 'working in a post-COVID world', we are going to look at how a refreshed office can help bring people back to work.

How office refurbishment can help people back to work.

'Fatigue' of working from home

'People are tired of working from home', a BBC article exclaimed at the beginning of March. Speaking on the Today programme, Howard Dawber, head of strategy at Canary Wharf Group, said that workers still 'want to divide time between the workplace and home'. He surmised that people have grown tired of the same routine every day, as people stay put in the same environment. The first couple of months of the pandemic was seen by most as a 'quirky change' and there was a sense that working from home would be a short-term process. Here we are, 12 months later...

Mr Dawber says that people have been missing out on the opportunity to collaborate, as well as socialising with their colleagues; there's only so much a Zoom call can do. When you add into this, the restrictions and closing of public places and spaces, people have been unable to meet up (even for a social distanced catch-up) for most of the last year. So, it's no real surprise that many have found their work existence a monotonous one.

With hopes that all legal limits on social contact can be removed from the 21st June, Mr Dawber says that, despite many others getting used to home working, Canary Wharf expects occupancy levels to gradually return to where they were before the pandemic. The increase will take time, but he believes that fundamentally, people will want to return to work – and this is where an office refurbishment comes into play.

The need for office refurbishment.

While working from home allows employees to feel liberated from the stressful commute and the constraints of office opening hours, they will still need to experience a balance of socialisation and isolation to flourish. Without interaction and in-person collaboration, people will miss out on impromptu idea-sharing, spontaneous teamwork and informal socialising; then there's the mentorship that can be provided either consciously or subconsciously too.

Feeling equipped and motivated, challenged yet able to draw enjoyment from work are the cornerstones of a successful workplace. Development, both in their job role and their personal attributes, is also a vital point to consider. So, a healthy compromise needs to be found; something that allows employees to feel the freedom to work where, when and with whom they want. It should also provide a space in which they can group with their peers, allowing them to feel safe and valued. An office refurbishment can create such a community.

How to create a workplace community.

The solution to creating a workplace that promotes in-person working can be found by adapting existing work settings to become more conducive to collaborative and social interactions. This can be achieved by creating/adhering to:

An agile work environment…

In which employees will have the flexibility to choose how they work rather than the environment forcing them to operate outside of their comfort zone. An agile office is made up of several customisable working spaces; the 'traditional' open office set-up, private suites, collaborative spaces and dedicated facilities to meet with others who may be working from home.

The need for human connections…

Can be fulfilled with a centralised area, such as a breakout room, tea point or kitchen that will allow employees to connect throughout the day. This helps to cater for collaboration and camaraderie, further boosting their productivity and wellbeing.

Interested in learning more about how an office refurbishment can adapt your workplace to 'the new normal'? Then the Oaktree team are on hand to help.

Bespoke workplace refurbishment by Oaktree Interiors

Here at Oaktree Interiors, we are a vastly experienced office design and build company, having carried out hundreds of fit out, refurbishment and relocation projects across London and the South East of England.

As a result of our innovative approach to office design, we have established a leading service that has helped many different types and sizes of businesses to better utilise their workplaces. In a post-COVID-19 world, being able to have an inventive, custom office design will no doubt be vital, so please feel free to get in touch with us to learn how we can help you too.

For more information, call our office refurbishment experts on 034521 86955 or send an e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
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