How will COVID 19 impact the size of offices?

The following question was presented by an attendee at our recent Changing Spaces Webinar. You can submit a question of your own to be answered within 24 hours in the form below.

Flexible offices are still critical to reducing space, as much as increased remote working

There seems to be conflicting forces related to the future size of offices – the need for more space due to social distancing and the need to downsize due to less people in the office resulting from more flexibility, such as working from home. What are your thoughts on the future of the size and layout of offices?

This is something that is at the front of a lot of people minds, to a certain degree it’s still early days in this crisis and social distancing and other requirements are key factors in this.

Reducing your footprints to a smaller space and adopting flexible work styles is great in theory, but at this point it goes against the requirements for having 4 square metres per person and increased space between individuals.

Because of this, there will be a few considerations to be considered that may seem to somewhat increase the size of the office, such as larger desks to ensure appropriate distancing between staff, larger meeting rooms because of density requirements, set paths of travel to reduce human-to-human interaction and the list goes on.

Short-term changes to the office space will initially seem to increase the size of the offices

However, in the long term, as the effects of the current “free trial” of remote working become more apparent, there will definitely be a reduction in office footprints. If you move to an ABW or a more agile workplace, you could look to reduce your footprint around 30 to 40%. There is data and experience there to say that, yes, you can do that if you adopt a flexible working style.

Having said that, I think it needs to be considered that a lot of time and research needs to be done into your organisation to see whether your company is truly ready for a fully flexible work environment. It’s more than just having some people working remotely, it’s a complete mind shift change and I think engaging with your team and employees and getting them on board to make sure everybody is comfortable with that approach is the key to success. It’s also about looking in detail into the technology you are using, and finding that balance between digital and in-person interaction that works for your organisation.

It’s more than just having some people working remotely, it’s a complete mind shift change

Simon Blewett – Head of Interiors

So in the long run, yes, there will be a reduction, but it won’t be an immediate process, as organisations need to ensure that they consider this in detail as a process of change.


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