Back to work: Changes you can expect when you go back to the office


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The office you left at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is not likely the one you’ll return to as employees make their way back to the workplace.

Intivity and Steelcase Inc. are closely tracking the trends we are seeing as employees return to the office and focusing on the strategies being implemented to keep people safe and productive.

Dr. Tracy Brower, Applied Research and Consulting Principal for Steelcase, and Ann Miller-Michaels, Chief of Sales for Intivity, discussed the key trends Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation.

“One of the first things that we are seeing is that companies are reporting that they expect hybrid working models to continue,” Dr. Brower said. “Seventy-two percent of companies are saying that and leaders are saying it as well. That’s one of the trends that’s super-important. Another is this balance between safety and belonging. And, finally, productivity is going to be key.”

Company leaders are working to apply some of these insights to improve productivity. “We know that the workplace is absolutely critical to business outcomes,” Dr. Brower explained. “It’s the idea of spaces that are fluid, that we can move things about in order to partition space or create space for larger or smaller teams and the idea of open and enclosed spaces that are shifting a bit where people might do more of their individual work in enclaves and more of their team work out in the open.”

Technology is also driving some of these workplace innovations. “There’s a variety of things that we’re seeing and a variety of ways where we imagine space,” said Miller-Michaels. “One really is how we’re braiding the digital and the physical and the need for different types of spaces and how it evolves and providing user choice and control so that people can define how they want to work within a space. They want to be sitting in their office and then be able to pivot within their space or go to another area and have the same use of technology. And they want to use that as a way to bring people together, a way to collaborate, and a way to do their job. They’re expecting more.”

Miller-Michaels said that in Rochester business leaders are using a trio of strategies to productively reopen their offices. “One is their piloting. They’re doing tests. They’re setting up mock-ups within their space and having people sit in them and figure out what they like and what they don’t like. They’re taking measurements to see the engagement levels, to learn, and help create a safe and productive environment. We’re also seeing that they’re pivoting. They’re pivoting in the way they create team space. They’re actually seeing that they need more of a presence. They need to create a different relationship with their folks so that they feel safe, that they’re valued, and they’re helping them see the greater good – or goal – of the organization. And then we’re seeing that there’s participation. And participation is about change management – how people come into the workplace today. What are the protocols? So by piloting things, pivoting in the workplace, and participating leaders are going to find out a lot about their people and their people are going to be more engaged the more that we tell them and help explain what’s going on.”

Learn more about Intivity at

Learn more about Steelcase Inc. at

Learn more about Greater Rochester Enterprise at

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