Has 2021 Signaled The End Of The Traditional Office Space?

The years of 2020 and 2021 will go down in history as highly significant years in the modern world. The events that happened during this time will forever be etched on our minds. So much has changed, and so much will continue to change in the coming months and years. If we turn our attention to the business world, we can see some huge alterations taking place. The way businesses conduct themselves is changing – some say for better, some say for worse!

Already, many companies are moving online and solely occupying this space. Another change we’ve seen is the idea of businesses broadening their offerings as a result of COVID. A lot of alcohol companies started making and selling hand sanitizers during the pandemic – it’s a thought that probably never crossed their minds until then, but it opens a new stream of revenue. 

Still, the topic of conversation for today’s article is the idea of a traditional office space. To be specific, as the title notes, has 2021 signaled the end of it? Will we no longer see traditional offices in the world, or are they going to stick around? The likelihood of all traditional offices becoming extinct is very low. However, there are definitely arguments to be made that the traditional approach to having an office won’t be as popular as it once was…

What is a traditional office?

Throughout this post, you’ll see this term come up a lot. Indeed, we’ve already mentioned it a few times! But, what do we mean when we talk about a traditional office? What exactly does this entail?

Essentially, we’re talking about an office where only one company works inside. There could be multiple offices within the same building, but each office is occupied by one company. Everyone goes to the office every day to work, and that’s the circle of life forever. Until recently, this was the most common and popular way of working. Businesses across the world would look to rent or buy office space, giving themselves somewhere to work. 

However, along came a global pandemic that changed absolutely everything. Now, traditional offices have been exposed as not as productive or important as we once thought. New ideas and concepts have come in, meaning we may not see that many companies opting for the traditional approach anymore. 

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The work-from-home approach

Working from home wasn’t a brand new concept that suddenly burst into life in 2020/21. Plenty of people and businesses were doing this already, but the pandemic forced everyone to follow this approach. Companies that spent their entire lives operating from traditional offices were suddenly at home with laptops on Zoom. It was a completely new idea to so many, changing the way they operated. 

Interestingly, working from home impacted companies in different ways. Some really struggled with it, but this tended to be businesses that relied on more than just office space. For example, companies with factories or warehouses that needed to be managed. Obviously, in these circumstances, working from home isn’t ideal.

However, you also came across many businesses that absolutely loved the idea. Within a few weeks, they realized that working from home benefitted them more than staying in a traditional office. As such, they decided to cancel their rent or sell their office space and permanently work from home. Some of the benefits people saw when working from home include:

  • A significant reduction of expenses – No rental payments are needed when you work from home, and you don’t have to worry about paying office energy bills. Each employee covers their own expenses, which tend to be their normal household bills anyway. 
  • More comfortable work environments – Being at home gives each individual employee a chance to create a comfortable work environment. Whether this is in bed, on the sofa, in the kitchen, or in a home office; employees could work in a manner that made them as comfortable as possible. In turn, this led to the next benefit. 
  • Improved productivity – In many cases, productivity improved when working from home. It was all down to the previous point about comfortable work environments. Employees all respond differently to working conditions, so being able to create their own means they can be as productive as possible. They can find a comfortable place to work, choose their own schedule, and so on. 
  • More work flexibility – Usually, traditional offices follow the traditional working setup of getting in at 9 am and leaving at 5 pm. For the most part, this system exists because it seems the most convenient. People can leave the office at 5 pm and still have time at home with their families. But, when you work from home, you can set your own schedule. Many businesses would be flexible in how they let their employees work, focusing more on getting things done by certain points. For instance, as long as an employee submitted a project by the deadline, it didn’t matter when they worked. This helps ease stress for workers, as they can be flexible and adapt to their own preferences. 
  • More talent – From a strictly business standpoint, working from home technically gives you access to more talent. Normally, your hires are limited to people who can actually work in your office. This means that so many talented individuals from loads of different places will never be able to work for you. But, by working from home, you can hire anyone, anywhere. It opens up the talent pool, meaning you could potentially find better people for each job. Instead of settling for the best candidate in your area, you can find the best candidate full stop. 
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When you look at all these points, it almost seems strange not to consider working from home! In truth, many businesses began witnessing these benefits and wondered why they bothered to waste time and money working from a traditional office. So, expect to see more and more companies move out of offices and back to their homes!

Man Using Macbook

The concept of coworking

Much like working from home, the concept of coworking isn’t new. However, it is something that has grown in popularity and come under more scrutiny in 2021. Again, this is largely down to how different the world has become because of the pandemic. 

What is coworking?

For those that don’t know, coworking is where two or more businesses share the same office space. Ironically, this is not the same as office sharing. When you look at office sharing compared to coworking, you notice a few significant differences. Office sharing is more when multiple businesses have offices within the same building/space. Coworking is when there’s one office, but everyone inside it shares the same resources. 

There are a few reasons why the concept of coworking might become more popular thanks to 2021:

  • The need to save money – Many companies have been ravaged by the pandemic, losing substantial amounts of money. Government stimulus packages haven’t been anywhere near enough to help out, meaning companies are trying everything to save wherever they can. For some, this means ditching a traditional office and coworking instead. It’s significantly cheaper as you’re renting space with loads of other businesses. For organizations that still need office space to carry out their work, this seems like the best option. 
  • Dealing with loneliness – For a lot of businesses and employees, working from home has been tough. Not only that but working in a traditional office just doesn’t seem right anymore. A complete lack of human and social interactions over the last year has turned people a bit crazy. Perhaps that’s not the right word, but there’s a definite need for more social interactions than ever before. As such, coworking is potentially becoming popular as a means to fulfill this. It forces you to be around other people and interact with others, which can help many workers combat feelings of loneliness. 
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Ultimately, coworking presents itself as a tonic for the pandemic. Instead of spending loads of money on a traditional office – or staying cooped up at home alone – you can work with others around you. It won’t suit everyone, sure, but it can suit a decent amount of businesses/individuals. 

Conclusion: What will happen to the traditional office?

It was spoken about in the introduction, but the traditional office will never completely die. Huge companies still rely on them, and they do carry a few benefits. For now, traditional offices convey feelings of professionalism and authenticity to the consumer, building trust. However, one could argue that, as other working options become more mainstream, the traditional office no longer holds this power. 

All things considered, traditional offices are definitely on the way out. They’re no longer viewed as the ultimate way of working. Now, entrepreneurs know that different working options exist, so they can find which one works the best for them. In the next few years, you can expect to see the working landscape change dramatically. Working from home and coworking will become more popular, and the traditional office will be rarer and rarer. 

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