Workspace design in the New Normal is set to change. Greener, smarter and more sustainable workplaces. But also much, much more digital than before.
We want to start this article on the new conception of workspace design in the New Normal with a quote - from December 2022 - taken from the Digital Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano:
"diminishing restrictions on mobility and a gradual relaxation of restraint measures have allowed a return
to a "new normal." Consumers are regaining some of the habits and experiences they had lost with the
advent of the pandemic, but at the same time they are emerging from this tough two-year period with a
changed and heightened awareness of the opportunities arising from digital”
Polimi Digital Content Observatory, December 19, 2022
The "New Normal" is a term used to describe the new conditions and ways of life that have emerged as a
result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The "New Normal" includes changes in individual behaviors, work
processes, social life and the global economy.
For example, remote work, reduced travel frequency and the need for health safety measures such as
social distancing and the use of face masks have become part of the "New Normal." But consumption
patterns, interpersonal relationships and cultural life have also changed significantly.
The term "New Normal" was introduced to indicate that these changes could become permanent and that it is necessary to adapt to these new conditions in order to survive and thrive.
Having unpacked the meaning of the word let us address the theme of the article.
That is, how the New Normal impacts the new conception of workspace design.
Another report, also from the Polytechnic Observatories, comes to our aid: "From Emergency Smart
Working to the New Normal: New Habits and New Approaches to Work." . Report, to be honest, not brand new (since it is from the summer of 2020) but useful to understand how, from the very beginning,
companies had sensed that the return to normal would not be normal but, precisely, New Normal.
"One in two large enterprises will take action on physical spaces at the end of the emergency (51%),
differentiating them (29%), expanding them (12%) or reducing them (10%); 38% do not plan redesigns but will change the way they are used; only 11% will return to working as before. 36% of large companies will modify current Smart Working projects and digitize processes. As many as 70% of those with agile work projects will increase the days they can work remotely, from just one day a week before the pandemic to an average of 2.7 days after the emergency is over. Sixty-five percent will involve more people in initiatives, 42% will include previously excluded profiles, and 17% will act on working hours."
Moreover, these forecasts are confirmed by a much more recent research report, it is from 2022, by
Microsoft entitled "Microsoft New Future of Work, Report 2022" which aims to analyze from the
perspective of workers, corporate teams, companies and society as a whole, the future of work in the "New Normal" landscape.
It is worth highlighting some phenomena that emerged in the course of the survey, particularly, for our
purposes, how workspace design in the New Normal is set to change.
In this regard, the Microsoft report explains how digital technologies are already shaping the spaces of the hybrid work era. In short, the report argues that there are two ways in which digital technologies and space can interact:
The first point is easy to implement. And moreover, it is already happening. Just think of the number of
meetings that have moved from physical to virtual spaces such as Skype, Teams, Zoom, etc.
The second, on the other hand, will take a little more time. Time that will be needed for people to
understand the extent to which they can modify the physical space of an office to customize it to their own needs.
However, some current trends suggest that workspace design in the New Normal will be characterized by:
In summary, while until a few years ago workspace design had to respond mainly to the needs of
companies, in the era of hybrid work this seeks to respond to the needs of workers as well, creating
flexible, productive and sustainable work environments.
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