Before the pandemic, the workplace was a place where employees were supposed to dress formally, work for a designated amount of time, and basically, be all about work. The typical workplace life was to do your job and leave for the day. Back when I worked in an office, my work self too was radically different from my home self. This was not a choice, it was an unwritten rule that had to be followed to be considered “professional” (read: cold and formal). Well, it didn’t help me feel engaged or valued, and it certainly didn’t help my coworkers.
When the pandemic happened, many of us were forced to work from home without any rules in place. So we adapted and made our own. For once, employers were flexible and even changed some set-in-stone rules. For example, meetings were scheduled according to the convenience of employees. It finally felt like we were on the way to building a life around work, and not work around life. Isn’t that how it should be? But of course, many more steps need to be taken to achieve work-life balance, and I think that’s best left for wellness experts. Me, I’m an expert on workplace comfort because I’ve never been comfortable in a physical office!
Why is workplace comfort important?
While many people have finally opened their minds to the pros of remote working, workplace comfort has not got the attention it deserves. Feeling comfortable is important because it enables one to be themselves and therefore, feel safe at work. When you are free to be whoever you are, you can stop wasting your energy on fitting in. Instead, you can spend that energy on doing your job in a far more efficient manner. Little wonder then that workplace comfort is directly proportional to employee happiness and productivity.
There is no one way to ensure that your workplace is comfortable for employees. Managers need to know their employees’ needs and expectations and make changes accordingly. However, speaking from personal experience and conversation with friends, this is what people are looking for in the post-pandemic office space.
Giving people what they want is not hard
First off, nobody wants to wear stuffy formals at the office anymore. People have become used to working in comfortable casuals, so for the love of God, let people wear what they want at work. Athleisure is probably going to be the new workplace staple, so get on board. Emails need to be authentic too.
For obvious reasons, flexible working hours are responsible for workplace comfort too. As long as they are getting work done, does it really matter if they log in whenever it is convenient for them? The same goes for where they work within the office too. Employees must have the autonomy to change their place of work when they need a change of scenery.
Third, people want the freedom to take naps, particularly after lunch. The Japanese do it and they are some of the most hardworking people on the planet.
Last but not the least, many folks want to bring their pets to work. Our furry friends kept us company during the pandemic and they deserve a reward, don’t they? According to a survey, a lot more post-pandemic offices are going to be pet friendly.
Basically, once we’re back at the office in whatever capacity, it would be wise to bring our home selves to the office space. Employees are burned out in what was inarguably one of the worst years to work, so the least employers can do is ensure they are comfortable at work. It’s good for the mind and it’s the humane thing to do.