Why Was the Pre-COVID Office Problematic?

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Office design has come a long way in the past decade. However, the insights we received during and after the pandemic, into the way we craft our workplace and value our people, were simply astounding. As a result, the way we work and design our working environments has changed dramatically, for the better. 

There is a distinct difference between attitudes to work and the workplace before and after our lengthy lockdowns and COVID protocols. Below are some of the reasons as to why the way we designed workplaces before the pandemic was problematic. 

Open plan offices are no longer the way forward

Most offices these days are open plan. This is mainly due to the fact that it’s a much more affordable way for businesses to fit out their workplace. Management can also oversee employees in an open plan area, keeping an eye on their workers. Moreover, it was originally thought (many years ago) that open-plan offices were conducive to a more productive environment… but research shows this is not at all correct.

Studies like the aforementioned have piled up over the past decade, with evidence showing that open-plan offices are detrimental to the wellbeing of employees. Employees who aren’t at their best, or are stressed at work, won’t be contributing as much as they could be. Therefore, stressed staff inevitably hurt the productivity of your workplace and organisation.

Steering away from the open plan office is a must. This will allow you to create an office environment that minimises visual and noise distractions, thereby ensuring that your people are more relaxed and comfortable at work. This can be done easily with separated working areas, cubicles, or partitioned spaces.

A distinct lack of flexibility

Just a few years ago, the vast majority of white-collar workers were based in the office five days a week. Not many businesses allowed remote working, and those that did only offered a day or two each week. It’s now clear that this lack of flexibility was certainly impacting the well-being of employees, and even the productivity of the business.

These days, the eyes of employers all over Sydney have been opened wide by the pandemic. Those tough times showed that when required, businesses could seamlessly transition to a mostly-remote working framework. In fact, the efficiency of many employees actually increased as a result of working at home more often. 

It’s clear that the lack of flexibility before the pandemic was an issue for many businesses. It’s tough to estimate accurately, but if businesses had transitioned to a more flexible working style sooner, would they have reaped additional benefits? 

Hypotheticals aside, it’s important that your new Sydney office design and fit-out is maximising this kind of working style. Your employees deserve a measure of flexibility, and there’s no doubt that your organisation will also benefit from this change. Working with a professional Sydney office design company is the best way to ensure you’re making the right moves.

Employee emotional wellbeing was not the first consideration

The focus on the emotional well-being of employees has certainly grown in the past couple of years. Several studies have shown that the future of work lies in employee wellbeing, as this article by Forbes explains. Unfortunately, in recent years, the focus was more on the work itself. Processes must still receive appropriate attention of course. But the number one priority these days should be your people themselves.

In terms of investing, placing time and money into creating a better environment for your people has a much higher yield. Therefore, it’s simply smart business. So what does prioritising the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of your people look like?

  • Minimising distraction in the office
  • Managing workloads
  • Offering flexibility and choice in terms of where to work
  • Creating comfortable, relaxing spaces
  • Good quality furniture with ergonomic features.

If you want to provide a better experience at work for your people, working with the professionals is a must. At Niche Projects, we’ve helped businesses all over Sydney craft a wonderful workplace for their people, providing them with the right tools to maintain a positive emotional state and ensure that they are physically supported too. The biggest yields in terms of productivity and culture come directly from working with your people, and making the right changes. It’s simply smart business.

Improving hygiene at work

One of the positives of the pandemic was renewed focus on preventative health measures in the office. That is, making sure your employees are not at risk of becoming sick as a result of viruses or bacteria. Illness is a big factor in lost productivity in offices. In fact, sick days cost Australian businesses roughly $7 billion, every single year. Therefore, designing an office that minimises illness among your employees is simply a no-brainer.

Preventative measures learned and implemented during and after the pandemic include:

  • Masks at certain times or in certain areas
  • Desk partitions (ideally clear)
  • Sanitiser at strategic points
  • Encouraging regular hand washing.

Implementing some of these measures can decrease instances of illness among your employees, greatly. That in turn will save money, increase productivity and above all, improve the wellbeing of your employees.

Office design Sydney, by the professionals

Looking for office design in Sydney? At Niche Projects, we’ve serviced a huge range of clients across the city, delivering exceptional Sydney office fit-outs for businesses big and small. We’ll apply our expertise and experience to craft the perfect office for your organisation. 
Get in touch with us today to discuss your needs.