This article has originally appeared on LinkedIn as an author publication by Nina Prodanova-Iozeva here.
After COVID-19, companies will stop re-designing their offices and start re-designing their teams. This is my prediction for some of the inevitable changes influenced by the pandemic.
What is the future of office spaces? – was a question that only a few found interesting before the crisis. Now, in the 10th week during which shiny office buildings in Sofia remain empty, that same question desperately demands an answer.
COVID-19 will send open space offices to the past. The expectation was that such offices would promote collaboration and reduce overall costs. As a result, open spaces became the most common office setup – a trend that COVID-19 quickly obliterated.
Fear of contagion will be the first trigger for change. Lost productivity will come right after. After all, similar phenomena have occurred in the past.
Tuberculosis shaped the architecture of buildings a century ago. Swiss sanatoriums for tuberculosis brought the white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows as they maximize light, which was known to kill germs.
In less than 8 weeks, we rediscovered the quality of uninterrupted work in the quiet spaces of our homes. We focused on the quality of our interactive agile rituals that we now run remotely. We also introduced new Agile rituals and innovated the ones we had. The surprising result of the lockdown was that we raised our Agile way of working to a whole new level of collaboration quality.
Let’s remember that there was research saying that people interact less in open space offices because we normally don’t feel comfortable having an open deep conversation with a coworker in front of others or we are hesitant not to disturb their work.
I believe companies understand the choice they have to make now – double the office space to secure distancing, or continue working from home and focus on the new architecture of their teams.
The second option will speed up the adoption of Agile mindset and practices. Teams will still get together in offices for creative collaboration activities, a variety of interactions, access to expensive professional broadcasting equipment for webinars, or just as places for getting the work done. Offices will look like clubs, they will be located at greener surrounding and accessible by cycling or walking.
The architecture of teams will preserve lots of office architecture – openness, transparency, and proximity. It will be even more prone to contagion, because the behavior of vulnerability, honesty, and trust is highly contagious. Wait for the next article “Agile team architecture”
Nina Prodanova-Iozeva is a highly qualified consultant and a leader with more than 20 years of experience in managing highly complex transformations. Her name is well-known in the field of Agile and Enterprise Architecture.
She has also been recognized as one of the E&Y Entrepreneurial Winning Women in Europe, a program which identifies high-potential female leaders with growing and innovative businesses.