Maximizing Productivity at
Home and in the Office
Rendering created by the Pophouse team
Maximizing Productivity at
Home and in the Office
In our series of articles about the Future of Work, we have proposed multiple opportunities to continue to evolve the workplace as employers and employees adjust to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. While there are many changes that need to be addressed in the short- term to help employees safely return to their offices, we primarily remain focused on long-term improvements that will have a lasting impact on employee well-being and productivity.
The specific topics we have addressed so far have included the benefits and challenges of employees working from home, the use of technology to facilitate communication via a virtual-first workplace ecosystem, the importance of appropriate and user-friendly wayfinding and signage, and recommendations for office design with an emphasis on employees’ physical and psychological comfort. Our final article in the series takes a deeper look at the work setup at home as well as in the office to ensure that your business is optimizing employee engagement and performance.
A Smart Home Office
As we previously indicated, it is predicted that as many as 25% of the workforce will continue to work from home even after stay at home restrictions are lifted. Now is the time for employers to ensure the viability and productivity of the home office by incorporating privacy, ergonomic improvements, and a feeling of connection to the workplace.
The first critical component of the home office is streamlined communication with team members, regardless of location. Team members who have the ability to easily connect with their team won’t feel as isolated and will remain up to speed on important business needs. This connection will help ensure team members remain engaged even when they are not together. Video conferencing tools as well as the chat function of many software programs can help teams easily communicate throughout the day.
In addition to remaining connected, ensuring that team members are comfortable while they are working is a key component to a proper home set up. Lisa Moore, VP of Business Development at Pophouse expands on this idea. “We are currently assembling remote work packages that address ergonomic, comfort, technology and design needs for employees while working from home. These pre-assembled furniture collections are an easy way for businesses to provide their team members a few different options to improve their personal home office setup. Our offerings are designed to complement existing pieces already in the home and are tailored to the employee’s preferred workstyle setting. They include options for desking, seating, privacy, acoustics, lighting, and biophilia.”
As well as ensuring that team members have the proper furniture, a cultural connection to the business is an important component of the home office. As Lisa states, “Since it is so important for businesses to maintain company culture while team members are not together, we have also developed a few culture-focused elements that are fun, branded, and useful items that serve as visual reminders of the company brand and values. It is so important that the home office is inspiring, engaging and productive.”
In addition to work from home packages for team members, Pophouse is also providing custom design services for business executives. These offices are smart spaces that integrate technology, security and office equipment into the home. Selecting the right furniture and thoughtfully tucking away equipment like printers, will ensure the space still feels like home while performing like the office.
The New Workplace
As companies transition employees back into the workplace slowly, there is time to get things right. Many organizations are working on reconfiguring existing spaces with a focus on adhering to guidelines and requirements, keeping their employees safe and giving them peace of mind. Once these short-term modifications are met, business leaders can shift their focus to design changes that can have a positive impact for the long term.
For businesses where employees will work from home a higher percentage of the time, the office will become the place to collaborate and meet with other team members instead of the place to do heads down work. In order to properly configure the office to support this need, reducing the number of desks and increasing the amount of alternative spaces such as high-top tables, lounge seating and smaller 3–4-person conference rooms will create more opportunities for team members to connect. “Prior to the pandemic we were recommending a shift to a higher amount of flexible collaboration spaces and a lower density of desks in some of our projects. The pandemic has given many leaders a chance to see how their teams can work remotely and opened their eyes to new ways of doing business, speeding up the timeline for change,” says Jennifer Janus, President of Pophouse.
Ensuring that the space supports virtual connections will be essential. Planning for enough small conference rooms with the proper acoustics for virtual meetings will make it easy for teams to connect with their coworkers who are both in and out of the office.
In addition, there are long term ways that design can help reduce the spread of germs in the office. The use of new technologies that make the entry into rooms touchless can discourage the spread of germs by reducing the amount of surfaces team members need to touch in a given day. Antimicrobial materials as well as improved air circulation and filtration are additional ways to create a safe office environment. According to Jane Margolies in her April 7 article in The New York Times, “Certain materials may come to the fore. Smooth surfaces that are easy to wipe will be preferable to textured or porous ones that could harbor germs. And antimicrobial materials used in hospitals and laboratories may migrate to offices…Some old metals may experience a revival. Copper and its alloys — including brass and bronze — have been shown to be essentially self-sanitizing.”
Considering a full spectrum of ways that the office environment can support team members from antimicrobial materials to proper acoustics will ensure the space supports a variety of needs. As people have grown accustomed to working in the comforts of their home, they will need an even greater reason to leave that space to go into the office.
We firmly believe that for design to be effective you have to consider the people first and what they need. The design comes after.
“As we work to define the new normal for workspaces, both in and out of the office, Pophouse is actively developing a framework for the future of work,” says Jennifer Janus. “We are learning new information every day and folding it into our strategy to help business leaders create the best environment for their teams to thrive. We firmly believe that for design to be effective you have to consider the people first and what they need. The design comes after. What do people need to be productive, healthy and balanced? Once you know the answer, you can design spaces in the office and at home that support all of those practices.”
Pophouse is here to support you through this transition. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with us and learn more.