In a mid-March 2020 post
, just as the initial work-from-home (WFH) orders began going into effect, I pondered how in-office work and workplaces would change in the “wake of all this virtual work.” At the time, I didn’t imagine that the question would still be relevant.
But, alas, the pandemic rages on, and WFH remains the order of the day. The only thing that has changed between then and now is the level of thinking gone into the question. As we’ve seen in post after post here on WorkSpace Connect and elsewhere, workplace strategists have explored this question every which way. Generally, their goal for 2021 — once we can finally say the pandemic is behind us — is to facilitate a workweek and build an environment that allows employees to capitalize on a hybrid of in-office and at-home working.
Melissa Marsh, founder and executive director of PLASTARC
, a social research, workplace innovation, and real estate strategy firm who I speak with regularly for WorkSpace Connect, nailed it when she shared this silver lining of WFH in an interview for that mid-March post: “If people practice their teleworking skills … they’ll actually be better workers in any environment — and when they get back to the physical office.”
That’s a good thought for workplace strategists to keep in mind as they grapple with recrafting the connected, collaborative workspaces that defined the pre-pandemic environment. So too, based on the WorkSpace Connect posts that generated the top views in 2020, are topics such as behavioral change, mental health, standalone office design, and the role of various desktop technologies. Here’s a quick recap of the top 10 posts of 2020.
- Teleworking in Troubled Times — As mentioned above, this post discusses how today’s WFH mandates might influence tomorrow’s office work, with insight from Marsh.
- Rethinking Office Space for Lower Density — This post also reflects insight from Marsh, this time around the intersection of behavioral change and technology use in shaping tomorrow’s workspaces.
- Your Backyard, Your Office: Rethinking WFH Space — This post discusses the teaming between DEN, a remote performance management company, and Method Homes, a construction firm, to build a high-tech, smart remote office for individual use.
- Mindful Places: Doing Away with Distractions by Design — Not knowing a pandemic was close to unleashing its disruptive force, in mid-February, we kicked off a six-part “Mindful Places” series in which Kay Sargent, with HOK, shared her thoughts about engendering positive workplace experiences for all employees. In the post, Sargent implored designers to “make work work again” by designing away distractions.
- Return to the Office for Collaboration’s Sake? — Based on data from McKinsey Global Institute, this post explores the importance of working in an office… even as WFH as prove more successful than most employers ever thought possible.
- Mindful Places: Addressing Mental Health, Neurodiversity — In the final of her six-part series (see No. 4 above), Sargent discusses the importance of reducing the stigmatism around neurological differences and shares ideas for addressing this in the workplace.
- Beyond 2020: Power of the Workplace — This post recaps innovative thinking about what’s to come for the modern workforce based on a panel discussion among designers and architects who participated in a future of work webinar hosted by PLASTARC. My favorite idea? That the workplace should be thought of as a leadership tool.
- Will Coronavirus Be the Death of the Desk Phone? — Our IT audience members, in particular, are sure to appreciate this post from Bobra S. Bush, a technology consultant with Telcom. Here she describes why WFH may sound the death knell for the desktop phone, given that remote workers over the many months have had to learn to love using softphones on their PCs or smartphone apps.
- Are You Asking the Hard Questions about WFH? — In another post from one of our tech consultant contributors, Jane Laino, with DIgby 4 Group, explains why organizations need to take a hard look at their strategies and spending on communications technology services and equipment.
- Knock, Knock: Let’s Huddle, Virtually — This time last year, the intimate huddle space was all the rage for companies looking to encourage on-the-fly collaboration among employees. That type of thinking has gone out the window, thanks to the social distance requirements of COVID-19, but the availability of creative video options means the idea of the huddle space doesn’t have to disappear entirely.
What were your post pressing topics of 2020? Share below.