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Making the new Office Culture

As many employees return to their places of work across the Upstate, South Carolina and the nation, we all wonder about the future of our office space.

What will work spaces look like is what everyone, from the owner to the intern, is talking about it. The answer is we are all going to learn over the next few months. COVID-19 has drastically changed how we as Americans work. As someone who has worked in the tech industry for three decades with the last two owning my own company, I have seen the gradual changes over time in workplace culture.

But the past few months have flipped everything we have ever known about how we do business in the office space in near supersonic speed. While much of the changes will be based company-to-company, here are some of predictions as to what the office of tomorrow will look and feel like:

· Being in the present. Cell phones are the ultimate in meeting distraction. How many times during a presentation have you looked up to see someone with their chin down to their chest scrolling away on a phone with their thumb? How many times have you caught yourself doing the same? The COVID-19 zoom chat and conference call have shown workers that meetings aren’t just meetings. They have to be mentally present because things happen so fast. I can see a lot of future meeting attendees being more alert, or at least organization putting in policies to help teams eliminate the distraction.

· Office casual will be a whole new world. Whether working from home or being the sole person in the office some days, COVID-19 has put a new outlook on how we dress. I can see this going two ways. I can see a lot of people taking time and effort to dress professionally in office places that normally were casual. However, over time, I can see a lot of businesses realized a dry-cleaned suit works as well as a pair of shorts and sandals when trying to meet a deadline.

· Productivity will go up. During this work-from-home period, a lot of people learned that they could get eight hours of work done in a lot less time because priorities shifted. Parents might need to tend to young children since school and daycares were closed; people might have less stress since their commutes vanished; and maybe, work got done fast because there was less time focused on office gossip. Look for a lot more expectations on time.

· New signage. The “wash your hands” in the bathroom sign will be getting plenty of company at office places. Expect to see signs all over offices areas and reception areas, all telling about the needs for distancing and stopping the spread of Covid-19. These signs won’t be going away anytime soon.

· More cleaning supplies around the office. Expect to see more hands-free dispensers for towels and hand sanitizer. Some companies may even make staff clean-up days part of the new culture as opposed to traditional team training exercises.

The reality is, we are all learning what tomorrow may look like when it comes to working in an office atmosphere. Only time and patience will show the answer.

Andy Kurtz serves as the CEO of Kopis, a Greenville-based technology firm focused on providing high impact software and cloud solutions to businesses and state agencies in the Southeast. With a growing team of more than 40 employees, Kopis is one of the fastest growing software companies in the state of South Carolina.

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