The disruption caused by COVID-19 to the global workforce is unprecedented. Our Seattle area technology business community, in particular, is on the front line. Virtually all major tech firms have sent their employees to work from home.
It seems ironic that our tech industry – which to a large measure succeeds by innovating disruptive technology – is now challenged, itself, by the potential business disruption from COVID-19.
We’re still at the onset of this pandemic and it remains to be seen what the long term effects may be on future office space use. While we are far from having that answer today, one thing is clear: the tech community will respond with more innovation in its workplace strategy, and beyond.
COVID-19 and the Importance of the Corporate Office
At a time when office rents are at an all-time high, will COVID-19’s work-from-home strategy accelerate the trend of companies occupying less office space, per employee? New technologies are sprouting nearly every day that support in-home business activity. The video conference is now a ubiquitous alternative to an in office face-to-face meeting. What will be the outcome to the office market in a post COVID-19 environment?
While it may be too soon to predict, a couple of things are certain:
Seattle area tech companies will respond with innovation. It is in the very DNA of the community. There’s little doubt that as tech firms innovate their workplace strategies to the challenges of COVID-19, they will formulate more efficient use of both home and offices as a workplace long after COVID-19 departs.
The Workplace Experience
For several years, we’ve seen the trend of firms reducing the amount of office space used, per employee. At the same time, they have been expanding amenities that increase the employees experience in the workplace. You can count on both of these trends to increase. This is due to the importance of the corporate office, more than anything.
Connecting, Collaborating, Interacting
Ironically, the more we are forced to work from home, the more important the role of the corporate office becomes. Office space is much more than just a place to work. It’s a place to connect, collaborate, and interact with fellow team members. It also plays a key role in promoting a common culture while making a statement of the company’s brand to both customer and employee, alike.
There is no other species more social than humans. The forced isolation that many people are now experiencing with COVID-19 is making this all the more obvious. All of these factors make the corporate office an indispensible resource.
While COVID-19 is helping to fade the line between home and work, it will not eliminate the importance of a dynamic and thriving workplace. While it may further the trend of reducing office space, per employee, it will also influence the trend of more investment to make the office an attractive alternative to working from home.
Our disruptive tech community will always have a need for the modern office. As painful as this pandemic will be, you can bet it will ultimately give rise to new innovations in the tech workplace that recognize the important role of the corporate office in the home and office equation.