How many workers will continue to work at home and what does the new office look like?

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Melissa Smithson

As we enter 2021, it’s only natural to wonder what the new year has in store. Many of us are reevaluating our work lives, and one of the biggest changes is the option to work at home. Some Nashville people have been working at home throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Nationwide, Harvard Business Review reported that anywhere between 20% and 30% of employees will be working at home in 2021.

More people will be working at home in Nashville

The Greater Nashville Technology Council surveyed its members about remote work in May 2020. Even before the renewed COVID-19 wave in November and December, only 28% of the council’s employers said they thought the number of work-at-home employees would fall back to pre-COVID-19 levels. Less than 20% of the tech industry employees worked at home pre-crisis. Post-COVID, nearly 40% are working at home. These tech industry businesses told the Nashville Post that the at-home employees are as productive working at home as they were working in the office.

This is only the tech industry sector. It’s reasonable to estimate that overall, anywhere between 20% and 40% of employees will be working at home in Nashville in 2021. A recent survey by Upwork said that 36.2 million people in the U.S. could be working remotely by 2025, almost double the number that did so before the pandemic.

The corporate office in Nashville could blend with home offices

When working at home, it’s easy to slouch in pajamas and potentially, not get dressed until late in the day. But meetings are now held via Zoom and similar technologies. And work still needs to be completed. The other side of this is work-life balance. Without a morning commute, without a work office, and without a formal meeting room, work environments in 2021 look very different from the way they were pre-COVID.

Upwork’s chief economist Adam Ozimek told CNBC that “remote work is getting better for companies as they adapt to the new model.” Work policies are improving as people learn how to adapt and the corporate office is blending with home offices. CEOs working at home can need both corporate and home offices to continue their role.

What will Nashville’s home offices look like?

Personal taste has a lot to do with the appearance and function of the home office, but there are practical concerns as well. With Nashville schools returning to virtual instruction as of January 7, having a separate office area in the home is going to be crucial for at-home employees with children to maintain productivity.

The McKinsey consulting organization has conducted many surveys throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. When they surveyed people working from home in June 2020, 80% said they enjoyed working at home, and appreciated the greater flexibility they had in life. Almost 70% reported they were more productive or as productive as they had been while working in their corporate office pre-crisis.

Home offices can further increase productivity and employee satisfaction if they’re properly designed. That is where an experienced general contractor and interior design-build professional can come in. In addition to home office improvements in privately owned residences, commercial real estate developers and multi-family property owners can promote tenant improvements that support the new remote work of the future.

Adapting interiors for work at home

According to McKinsey, adapting home office environments is going to be a “team sport across real estate, human resources, technology, and the business.” This is where DWC Construction and CarpentersPlus can come in. If tenant improvements are simple, CarpentersPlus can do the job effectively and efficiently. For more involved construction projects, DWC Construction can work with your corporate office and complete the home office construction or renovation/adaptation project.

The corporate office will still be needed

Some people are asking, “will corporate offices continue to be needed?” It’s hard to imagine a future where there will be no separate corporate office for any company. Popular Science reporter Eleanor Cummins wrote about the future of safe office work in September 2020. She concluded that corporate offices won’t likely go away any time soon because corporations still have functions that require work teams to be in the same location. Instead, offices won’t be as crowded in the future as they have been in the past. Teams will work in shifts, or on opposite days. That means that offices will be more spacious, and there will be fewer touch points for potential infection to spread.

Keeping in touch with co-workers and keeping strong connections is crucial for any business at the best of times. DWC Construction can help businesses who are leasing their space with tenant improvements to create a new, safer workplace. Or, if your company is considering leasing a new space in the area to start a new year, DWC Construction is able to help with tenant buildout as well. Whether you’re a remote worker who expects to continue, or you have a part-time work-at-home and office schedule, you can also turn to CarpentersPlus to make the changes you need to improve your work efficiency at home.