Satellite offices are one of the big trends predicted to come out of the Great Workplace Experiment of 2020. To learn more about this phenomenon we decided to ask Jonas Westerlund, workplace strategist at Tentant & Partner.
Our way of working and the workplace itself is going through a massive transformation in 2020. People who had never worked from home created workstations at their kitchen table and old truths about 9 to 5 and stationary seating faded away.
Jonas Westerlund started thinking about modernizing and improving our workplaces long ago. Westerlund spent five years at the Volvo Group running the “Future Workplace” project. Now a workplace strategist at Tenant & Partner, we asked Jonas for his take on satellite office
How would you explain satellite offices and what will they look like in the future?
According to surveys, two in three Swedes like working from home and want to continue to working remotely approximately two days a week. During 2019 that number was only half a day per week.
Every time something unexpected happens, like a sick child, a heavy snowfall or some personal business that needs to be done –many people adjust and work from home that day. As remote working increases so does the relocation
from the city and that’s when the satellite offices become a solution. We will start to look for other options than to work from our homes, both for an environmental change and to meet other people. This will create a market for smaller offices outside of the city center.
There is a big demand for the satellite office to offer more than just a working space. Employers are considering proximity to grocery shopping, gyms, hairstylists, and cafes. When the boundary between work time and spare time or the office and home are blurred, new and different opportunities for working are created.
You believe that the trend of the open office soon will be less desirable since it can create a tough environment for focused work. Do you believe that more people will agree with that moving forward?
Yes, definitely! I think a common mistake a lot of businesses make when they plan a new office layout is to underestimate the need for focused workspace.
The updated office needs to provide the same benefits that we experience while working from home. Most importantly, a place free from distractions. A typical workday often contains ten or more different types of tasks, a mixture of both planned and un planned events. The workplace needs to support this mixture.
We can’t forget that the human brain is a limited resource. It wasn’t possible to focus for eight hours nonstop before the pandemic, and that won’t change. The office must offer solutions for individual work collaboration, meetings, and breaks
Despite an ongoing pandemic, what are the biggest challenges for businesses related to office space?
I believe it will be getting people back to the office, and in the long term keep them there. A strong working culture will require the ability to meet in person.These long months have gifted us with a new found freedom and confidence and we aren’t likely to return to the old normal. When the pandemic recedes and we feel safe to return to office, we will probably be glad to be back. However that could pass quickly unless employers reinvent their offices. Flexible and effective office space, good company culture, and proximity to amenities will all be important to retaining employees.
Competition for good employees will be even more fierce in the post pandemic world. Key employees will get job offers from other parts of the world, offers that didn’t exist before. It’s not something negative per se, but these new individual freedoms will have a high impact on the team.
The office may be getting smaller but it has to be twice as good as before. Employee motivation, engagement, and loyalty is on the line.
Very wise answers, thank you for that Jonas. What do you think about the future? Are satellite offices the new black? Leave a comment – we would love to hear your thoughts!