What’s the New Normal for The Post-COVID Office?

BEFORE COVID, Australians worked less from home than their counterparts overseas. However, now things have apparently been reversed.

And even though Australian office workers say they’ve been far more productive at home … there is a keenness to return to an office environment.

Clearly, many tasks are done far better from home without interruptions – plus, people relish avoiding the morning and evening commute. However, they do miss face-to-face involvement with their colleagues and clients.

Will there be a massive downsizing after COVID?

Some people will wish to continue working from home – albeit on a part-time basis. But that won’t necessarily reduce the office footprint – because of the ongoing need for social distancing will obviously affect CBD high-rise office buildings.

For the staff attending those offices, there will be a need for more space. But it will probably be configured differently.

Over time, companies will reduce the space allocated to fixed desks … to reflect the desire for people to work more from home.

However, you will also start seeing more space being provided for staff to collaborate, solve problems and socialise.

What are the innovators doing?

In a recent AFR article, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brooks announced there would be no shelving of plans for his new headquarters in central Sydney – where the building has been designed to house 4,000 people.

As you can appreciate, it’s much easier to stop a building which hasn’t yet been built.

However, even if half his team choose to work from home, he is expecting it to be “pretty full” by the time the building opens.

Nonetheless, you could well see some CBD firms begin decanting entire departments into the suburbs – to help reduce commute times for those who feel the need to spend time in an office environment.

Bottom Line: The expectation is for CBD officers to resume near-full occupation – once businesses are allowed to reoccupy those premises.

And then, progressively a reconfiguration of space – to allow and encourage more interaction. Plus, there will be a move to establish Suburban hubs – in response to those staff wanting to work closer to home.

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