Covid has brought about a key challenge for the flexible workspace industry: how to maintain a community in a situation where members want to avoid physical contact. In terms of product, flexible workspace are shifting their offering from hot desks to more private offices. That also comes with new design. We present here an innovation in the space of design that reflects the heightened need for flexibility: in and out of the office space.

A Shift in Demand for Office

According to a survey of over 300 operators made by the authoritative source of data on the flexible workspace industry,  CoworkIntel, close to 50% of flexible workspace expect less hot desks and more private offices. This proportion is consistent across the main countries origin of the respondents in particular France and Spain.

Find the full results of the survey on CoworkIntel website. ‌‌

How can a flexible workspace keeps its individual members in this situation? Changes in the organisational structure of the space are one option. We look here more closely into the choice of equipment in particular modular meeting rooms and conference call rooms.

Innovation in the Space

To gain agility, flexible workspace need to rethink how they design their space. As seen in our survey, people are looking for more private room and less meeting room. Regarding the specific case of meeting rooms, our survey corroborate the statistics shown by an analysis made by Density.io that underline that 40% of meeting rooms are most of the time used only by 2 personne. People are looking for more private space (private office?) and dedicated space to setup, on the fly meeting.

Before diving into why modular  but what are the current solutions and why do they doesn’t match nowadays needs ?

Most of today's meeting room and conference call rooms are built-in solutions (fixed to the ground).

When you look closely at what it takes to build them it’s easily understable that they are not suited for today’s office needs. Indeed, nobody wants anymore to spend at least 5k€ to build a single conference call room, manage contractors (electricians, architectural engineer...) and negotiate with the landlords' permits... Last but not least, once they are constructed and decide to move out, the investment is lost.

Photo : Pawel Chu

Beyond the flexibility and cost efficiency that booths or prefab solutions are bringing to the market, compared to fixed construction, flexible workspace needs to offer customer centrics solutions if they still want to be attractive. Talking with people in our ecosystem we identified 2 factors that stood out, on the one hand the need for more private space to answer the need of video conf increasement and on the other hand the need for safety.

Indeed, how do you ensure you have enough conference room when 50% of the workforce is at the office and the other half working from home but they still need to communicate. Building more conference rooms ? Probably too expensive. Reducing virtual meetings ? Impossible. Adding booths to offices is an easy way to solve this problem, both cost efficient and flexible.

Source : https://workwithisland.com/

When you look closer at what happened from early 2020 until today in office design the shift has been enormous. The most visible part is all the components to ensure physical safety, companies invested a lot to protect their workers. Protective solutions are flourishing and we have seen protection such as plexiglass desk’s separators, hydroalcoholic gel and masks...etc. Indeed, physical safety has been the cornerstone to bring back employees to the office. What is less visible is what these solutions are not answering.

Source : https://vauban.louis.design/vauban-en-x-separateur-bureau

Indeed, looking at what safety means for workers it is on the one hand physical safety but on the other hand mental safety. Both are becoming mandatory for companies looking to re-open their offices : coming back to the office is stressful for employees. Indeed, once physical safety is provided how do you ensure or help employees to feel mentaly safe at the office ? Installing booths provides workers a place to concentrate, take phone calls or just provide a moment of intimacy : it participates to mental safety.

The shift in the market observed in our survey underlined the need for more private office. Can modular solution be an answer ? Can it bring more flexibility to real estate ? If you would like to know more about the future of the office please get in touch with http://coworkintel.com/ or modular office furnitures with https://workwithisland.com/.