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The Future Of Workspace: Journey Into the New Year The new normal is what will shape workspaces in 2022 and a number of factors will influence decision-making

By Neetish Sarda

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a watershed moment in the history of the world. The global contagion changed everything: from the way we interact personally to how we approach work. The ensuing lockdown initially forced workspaces shut, relegating people to working from home and blurring the boundaries between their personal and professional realms. Once the restrictions were partially lifted, a hybrid work model was adopted with only the required staff working on-premise. Now that countries around the world have been able to administer vaccines to a significant proportion of their population – with some having achieved full vaccination also – organizations have started welcoming their workforce back. However, are things how they were in the pre-pandemic scenario? Certainly not. The new normal is what will shape workspaces in 2022 and a number of factors will influence everything from how people perceive coming back to work to how offices of the future will look like. Here are some key trends to watch out for.

Rise of Managed Offices

The enterprise sector will be the key decision-maker and trendsetter, remaining dominant in the adoption of flexible spaces. Taking a cue from the hangover of a hybrid work environment and its benefits, enterprises are likely to focus on flexibility as also move away from a single-location office. Flexible shared office spaces also have the added advantage of being cost-effective especially for those organizations that have faced significant challenges during the pandemic. As per a recent survey by Gartner, about 48 per cent of employees may be working remotely post COVID. With it being logistically impossible to provide company owned workspaces to the employees working remotely across locations, there is a rising trend of hiring managed office and shared working spaces that operate on a pay-per-use basis. Business leaders have to adopt a flexible approach and factor in managed third party office spaces while planning the return-to-work strategies in the times ahead.

Wellness-Equipped Smart Offices

The pandemic has also enabled a transformation not only in terms of benefits that employers offer to their employees in the new normal. Workspaces of the future will be all about mental, physical, and emotional wellness for better productivity and overall employee satisfaction. Offices of the future will incorporate a green eco-friendly environment and biophilia, apart from lighting and décor, ergonomic furniture, and breakout zones intended at reducing stress and anxiety at work as well as encouraging well-being and sustainability.

Tech-enabled Offices

Technology has emerged as an enabler during the pandemic across all industry verticals. Consequently, it will also lead to new-age offices providing people with a digital workspace experience. The year 2022 will see a complete transformation of offices into smart and dynamic spaces that incorporate the latest technologies to facilitate a better employee experience. Future workspaces require agility and resilience and therefore, technology is what will enable organizations to seamlessly work with distributed teams while maintaining company culture alongside. Technology has now made it possible to build highly digitized workspaces which are smart, intuitive and automate optional touchpoints. For instance, sensor-based taps, coffee dispensers that work on QR scan basis instead of the need to press buttons, facial recognition based entry points, automated parking areas, etc., now enhance ease and reduce touch at managed workspaces.

Experiential Workspaces

Improving employee experience and building trust and real-time communication will be key to establishing lasting relationships with the workforce. The focus will be on humanizing work and ensuring the well-being of employees. It is no longer about just offering a comfortable workplace but rather investing in community building through idea sharing, partnerships, and collaborations. Integration of recreational features, aesthetics that enhance positivity, and easy digital access to various support services, utmost emphasis on hygiene etc are some of the things that will add value to the workspaces. Employers need to look beyond ergonomic seating and deliver a comprehensive workspace experience from the moment one enters the parking to the time he/she leaves the premises.

Greater Focus On Managed Office Spaces

Today, the acceptance of working from anywhere has increased. Leaders need to therefore find the twilight zone wherein they get the best of both worlds. A return to work in the "new normal' will, be an effective hybrid of office, and remote along with collaborative working, be it in a dedicated flexible or co-working space.

This is where a managed space provider can solve the conundrum by providing a customized office space. Managed workspaces are cost-efficient, flexible, scalable, agile, and suited for organizations in the new normal.

Neetish Sarda

Founder, Smartworks India

Neetish Sarda is the Founder of Smartworks and envisions to transform it into India’s foremost provider of futuristic bespoke office spaces. Neetish comes with a strong business acumen, with experience that spans businesses ranging from jute mills and business operations to real estate and construction.

His company also has considerable investments in several ITES firms. The group is also into providing technology and software-based services. Neetish has an undergraduate degree in business from the Krannert School of Management, Purdue and Singapore Institute of Management (UniSIM, Singapore).



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