Ready for what’s next: Insights from Kimball

Ready for What’s Next

The workplace is quickly evolving. Which is a good thing. As a company rooted in reinvention, Kimball has a history of facing challenges and responding with inspired solutions.

Looking ahead, we envision a purpose-driven office—a place that adapts and responds to how people work, both individually and in groups. It’s not enough to get simply get by. We want people to thrive.

While many question the future of the office, we see a world of opportunities. It’s a new day. We’re excited by all the ways we can make work better than ever.

Creating the Future Office

As a new way of working begins to take hold, companies will need to adopt a flexible mindset around working from home, office footprint, and employees wanting both focused and collaborative spaces within the office.

Hybrid Work

Companies and their workers will become adept at balancing working in the office with working from home. In daily practice, the workplace will become a central hub for employees to connect, socialize, and collaborate.

Adaptable Design

Organizations that flex to their employees’ changing needs will have the advantage. This means being able to read how workers are settling into the “new normal” and meeting them where they are, sometimes on the fly, with modular furnishings and demountable walls.

Reduced Footprint

Work-from-home employees will cause office footprints to shrink. At the same time, employees will experience a tradeoff between working from home and having a dedicated desk. They can also expect less desk space than before the pandemic.

Defined Spaces

Employees will need spaces designed for collaborative meetings as well as places to escape to focus on individual tasks. A surprise to some, Kuchar’s research indicates that people will depend on the workplace as a place for focused work as much as for collaboration.

Looking Ahead

Office environments will need to be planned around their inherent strengths: bringing people together in physical space and supporting the kind of interaction and productivity not possible when working remote. A premium will be placed on flexibility. Workers will thrive when given choice over how and where they can be most effective. Companies will need to be equally creative when considering how to maximize their available real estate. With so much to consider—owned space, standard leases, flexible leases, flex space, co-working space, and remote work—organizations with a clear sense of their values and purpose will have the greatest success moving forward.

Planning Considerations

Despite current events, the desire to return to the office (at least, in part) remains strong. According to findings from Kuchar, this can be attributed to the in-person benefits of collaboration. A company’s culture and ability to innovate are formed around people spending real time together. To get there, companies will need to embrace a plan that is flexible and purpose driven. Now more than ever, an organization’s values will drive decisions over how spaces are planned and executed.

“There will be more emphasis than ever before on company values, and how their physical space responds to these values. Office culture, location, and organization will play a large role in determining the footprint the company needs as well as types of spaces within the office.”

Kuchar, The Future of the Office

Preparing for an End to the Pandemic

The pandemic is like no other event in our lifetime. Businesses around the globe have been forced to adjust radically. The same is true of employees, who between Zoom meetings, have been able to reflect on what matters most, both in life and on the job. For workers, COVID is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reassess priorities when life “returns to normal.” How are people responding? With findings from our design partners at Kuchar, here is what we found.

Values & Attitudes: How Perceptions Are Shifting

To get a clear read on how workers are responding to current events, our partners at Kuchar design group in Chicago performed targeted surveys spanning age, position, employment status, and other details from workers in every state. The following statistics offer insight into where employees currently stand.

Employee Expectations

How can offices prepare for a return to work? When you spend time with the survey findings, it become clear: people want safety, flexibility, and ways to collaborate in person and remotely.

Safety & Cleanliness

The pandemic has put employee safety into sharp focus. Greater than 8 out of 10 expect their companies to take precautions to prevent the spread of germs and contagions. Space is also a consideration. Workers report wanting, “…everyone to have their own space and have it sanitized often” and “…more space between my coworkers.”

Dedicated Individual Workspace

For health reasons, privacy, or otherwise, a majority of workers want space to themselves for focused work, calls, or video meetings. Offering employees a space with a door doesn’t override the desire for collaboration; it means accommodating a balance of both.

Collaborative Technology

The work-from-home reality of the pandemic has caused workers to embrace technology geared toward collaboration and connection. Knowing that many plan to spend at least part of the week working from home, there’s an expectation that employers will equip them for remote collaboration.

80% enjoy working from home
41% say they’re as, or more, productive than before
82% want their company to stop the spread of germs and contagions after the pandemic
60% would prefer a private office with a door
48% would like a dedicated desk with personal storage
56% want to work from the office half of the time, at least
52% look forward to collaborating with coworkers
87% say job satisfaction is the same or has increased from home
24% responded favorably to 100% work from work
20% responded favorably to 100% work from home

Need a hand?

If you’re like a lot of businesses, there are bound to be questions on how to equip your office for life after the pandemic. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, retrofitting existing Kimball products, or in need of new solutions, our team is here to help.