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A year ago, the workplace changed as many workers moved from offices to makeshift workspaces in their homes. But even as we settled into these new routines, leaders were already asking the question, “What will the future workplace look like when we all come back?”
The answer is coming into focus as companies survey their workforces about worksite preferences and their priorities in office settings, and as workspace designers respond to those new attitudes. One trend is the rise of the hybrid workspace to accommodate a mix of on-site and remote workers. Forty-two percent of employees recently surveyed by Prudential said they wouldn’t want to work for an employer who required them to work on site full time, while 87 percent of them wanted to work remotely at least one day per week. Facebook expects half of its workforce to be remote by 2030.
In line with these trends, companies are reducing the amount of office space under lease. Office real estate vacancies are on the rise, companies are rethinking their remaining office spaces while taking the opportunity to cut back on real estate costs. Instead of rigid spaces carved into private offices and cubicle farms, companies are looking at hybrid office spaces with shared desks, flexible office configurations, and health and safety mechanisms that address a majority of employee post-pandemic concerns.
Some priorities stand out during this transition period:
- Spaces need to be flexible – Designing offices spaces to focus on traditional static, private workspaces will limit how people can efficiently use space. Spaces that can safely foster easy collaboration for both in-person and remote workers will be needed.
- Desks should be shared – Flexible hours and workstyles were on the rise before the pandemic. Post-pandemic, they may become more mainstream, leading to a reduction in personal offices, cubicles or desks.
- Health and safety are paramount – Health and safety have become more prominent in workers’ and managers’ minds, leading to considerations around spacing, cleaning rotation, capacity, and air quality.
Supporting these new workspace priorities requires underlying technology innovation and investment. For example, smart building systems can automatically track and manage occupancy, cleaning crews, air quality and safety, while Wi-Fi networks must support workers moving around anywhere within an office space.
UCG: Flexible Infrastructure for Flexible Workspaces
A flexible workspace requires a network architecture that is just as flexible and dynamic as the workforce it supports. CommScope’s Universal Connectivity Grid (UCG) supports the workforce by allowing a workspace to be organized into areas called “cells.” Deploying consolidation points (CPs) for network connectivity in these areas' buildings can provide highly flexible workspace options while still meeting the core network needs of the workforce.
The UCG enables and supports multiple applications that enable the workplace of the future, including wireless LANs (WLANs), mobile technologies, sensors for health and safety, building automation and access control. In collaboration spaces with heavier wireless requirements, CPs can provide power and connectivity to more WLAN access points. WLAN and wired connectivity can support focused workspaces in a shared desk area and also support systems that detect occupancy, to let others know what space is available or to notify custodial services that a space should be cleaned before someone else can use it.
Clearly, the workplace is and will continue to evolve as quickly as the workforce it needs to support. CommScope is ready to support not only the needs of today, but also the dynamic needs of tomorrow with architectures like the Universal Connectivity Grid.