Companies are making changes to protect workers from COVID-19 as they prepare for a return to the office. But beyond more attention to cleaning protocols and added divisions for social distance, companies also are considering additions, such as new tools for remote workers.
More than 80% of companies are reportedly considering a hybrid work model where employees will be able to split their time between the office and working remotely, according to a survey from KayoCloud, a real estate technology platform.
New modes of work will likely transform the design of many workspaces. For example, the need for personal desks may be replaced with “hoteling” workstations or “hot desks,” which can be used by whoever is at the office that day. Employees may have to reserve their “hot desk” for the day prior to just showing up.
“A year ago if I had interviewed people, they would have said they definitely need three file cabinets and a bookshelf,” Andrea Vanecko, a principal at NBBJ, an architecture firm, told The New York Times. “Now there’s a very different answer.”
Also, conference rooms could be replaced by Zoom rooms. A large screen on the wall might become a necessity for presentations or to allow remote co-workers or others to appear on video. Some closet-sized phone booths may be added and transformed into private stations for videoconferencing booths with built-in screens.
Holograms could also be coming to the workplace. Some companies are reportedly exploring the use of holographic representations of employees who plan to stay remote full-time. Devices that use 360-degree cameras, microphones, and speakers can be placed on a table or tripod to improve the sound and visibility of video conferencing and even possibly one day projecting a remote employee into an empty seat in the physical world as they join in the discussion virtually, The New York Times reports.