According to Scalable Malaysia, the demand for office space is likely to rise this year as more companies implement hybrid working arrangements in which their workers split their time between home and office.
The office relocation and remodelling company claims it has first-hand experience and engagement with what businesses have gone through over the last two difficult years.
The office will still be relevant
While many companies allow remote working based on the nature of the business, Paramount Corporation Bhd Deputy Group CEO and ED Benjamin Teo said that office premises will still be relevant if individuals follow the required standard operating procedures (SOPs).
He believes that working from the office is still more effective, especially for larger companies looking to reunite their teams. Nonetheless, Teo views striking a balance between working autonomously and meeting with bosses and coworkers as crucial.
He said the nature of the job, industry and business culture plays a role, and there is no right or wrong answer in the argument between working from home and the office.
According to him, it all comes down to the most efficient and productive working conditions for everyone. For instance, spending extra time after the lunch break to catch up with a colleague personally goes a long way.
Transforming the office
Teo emphasised the importance of changing the way offices work by integrating a bit of home element to create a healthy balance between comfort and productivity. For instance, employees can work in the office lounge for a different workstation view, a nap area to revitalise the mind, and quiet phone booths for private conversations.
It also includes a variety of light settings for various occasions in the office and effective meeting rooms with technological additions such as a conference TV.
When the pandemic initially broke out, Teo and his team at Scalable Malaysia were astounded by how enterprises demonstrated their resilience by reinventing their corporate culture and redesigning their workspace according to their recovery strategy. He said it was daunting yet exciting to witness the industry go through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Flexible workspaces help to reduce office overcrowding
The office space glut in Malaysia has deteriorated in recent years due to an excess supply of office buildings, particularly in the Klang Valley. According to Teo, many offices are downsizing due to reduced workforce, mergers, and new divisions, resulting in lower space requirements.
He added that many of Scalable Malaysia's clients desire to preserve their current office space to support the existing workforce and future growth. Although the existing space may appear redundant, he explained that staff are working from home, and the movement in the office is fluid.
He saw a potential change soon when the economy recovered, and business would return in full swing. This is when a shift in mindset is needed in office design, as the traditional office setup will give way to a multi-purpose and mixed-use space that stimulates better teamwork and communication.
Teo also emphasised the importance of real offices for collaborative work and cultivating a feeling of belonging among employees. He cited studies that demonstrate physical offices have a greater favourable influence on physical and mental health.
He claims that this is because Malaysian workplaces are highly friendly. Many employees have close friends within the company, which can boost motivation, productivity, job happiness, and overall well-being.
He added that face-to-face onboarding might be more successful than remote mentoring for new employees, and everyday engagement with others helps them fit in faster.
Hybrid working isn't going anywhere
Teo said that among the crucial developments in the future of work are hybrid and remote working arrangements, where flexible working setups are used, resulting in a more decentralised working structure and workforce.
He expects the hybrid working arrangement to last for some time, with larger companies eventually returning to the office in full force. This is why businesses must redesign their office spaces to be more attractive and engaging to employees.
With many businesses embracing hybrid working arrangements, Teo believes they should develop a strategy to preserve a positive workplace environment.
He noticed that companies were looking to refresh their workspace to suit their corporate identity, ergonomic yet comfortable design to improve workflow, and encourage employees to produce quality work.
Teo feels that physical proximity and engagement are still essential to develop strong and real connections, whether the firm has a single centralised headquarters or several smaller regional offices.
As a result, he emphasised the importance of workplace space. If companies want to recruit top talent and keep people involved in their work, a quality workplace experience is essential.
Creating an emotionally intelligent office
Organisations that invest in emotional intelligence are more likely to have strategic skills to coordinate their employees' and their company's needs.
Teo believes that when employees have the suitable spaces for the tasks they need to complete, they will be more productive. He said that people typically consider labour to be rational, logical, and emotionless. However, businesses are recognising the importance of emotions and their impact on work.
He added that emotions affect how people make decisions, interact with others, and make sense of their surroundings. Hence, Teo believes that work environments can provide places for employees to unwind and rejuvenate. Regular engagements make employees feel as if management has permitted them to express their emotions, making them feel more involved.
Teo said that after two years of difficulties and changes, and countless debates on whether work from home or office constitutes the future of work, maybe it is time for organisations to examine how they can redefine themselves. This might begin with a revitalised workplace that influences how employees interact professionally while also engaging with their personal values.
He believes that if an organisation can establish an inspiring environment, the team would be more motivated to work for the long haul. He stated that in the end, if companies look after their staff, the staff will take care of the business.
Source: The Malaysian Reserve