Prior to COVID, attraction and retention of talent to Columbia's growing business sector was at the top of the priority list. Post-pandemic, due to COVID, health will likely take that top spot of concern. Keeping employees happy, healthy and inspired will be key.
As we transition to a new normal in 2021, companies and businesses will look for spaces that are safe, secure and support the wellness and productivity of themselves and employees. The rush to move people to home offices will have some short term negative side effects: data security issues; cybercrime; lost productivity because the move is forced, not a planned exercise. We will see an unprecedented return to shared spaces. For many, working from home is not only distracting but frankly, uninspiring and lonely. As companies make decisions whether or not to bring employees back to the office, those left to fend for themselves remotely will look for alternative solutions...or jobs. These problems can all be fixed over time.
Companies' position on work from home (WFH) is changing dramatically with the realization of reduced infrastructure costs such as rent/lease, utilities, technology, and supplies, and wasted employee travel time, even while implementing WFH stipends. Staying at home meets the immediate need for health safety, yet is short sighted. The biggest line item for many companies pre-pandemic was mental health. What contributes to mental health issues? Lack of human connection. Let's revisit shared spaces. These shared spaces go beyond just the physical space needed to be productive, they provide an inclusive community. People will leave their homes because they need to focus and stay inspired, but more importantly, they need connection with other humans.
Now, more than ever, it's imperative for companies to rethink the traditional office concept and explore the concept of a shared working space for people to collaborate in at certain times. You may or may not want to rent full time office space, but maybe space where employees could congregate safely. Companies working together to plan to use shared space have the opportunity to collaborate to create new ways of working to enhance efficiency, productivity, avoid duplication of efforts, and create the new thing!
Ever get tired of the same conversation with the same people? Shared spaces bring the diversity factor into the culture, integrating a wide variety of people to expand your network and opportunity. These spaces offer more than passing the business card or pleasantries at networking events. Opportunities are presented to meet new contacts and reconnect with contacts that you know will share valuable knowledge for growth. When you are with diverse people, it expands your mindset to get shit done! The connections and relationships created lead to more prosperity through referrals, partnerships, and perspective.
For 2021, consider giving yourself and your team a space to grow and connect with other industry leaders. Post COVID, as workers look for a place to land and get busy, workspaces will need to be agile and frictionless to attract talent and inspire productivity.
Invest in yourself. Invest in your company. Invest in your community.