Multiple reports have been released in recent months discussing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of society such as education, business, and healthcare. As the number of infected individuals continues to rise across the country, countless employees remain stuck working from home, unsure of if or when they will return to their former places of work.
Companies across the country, of all shapes and sizes, have adapted to this ‘new normal’ by implementing remote communications methods and upgrading online systems to ensure that their employees can remain connected and productive from the safety of their own homes. This reality has led many companies to question the need for physical office space, citing steady (or even increased) productivity over recent months as an indication that a brick and mortar workplace may not be as essential as previously assumed.
In an interview with Baltimore Magazine, Christopher Helmrath, managing director of investment banking firm SC&H Capital, outlines that the current remote work transition will undoubtedly transform the way that businesses work in the long run. Helmrath predicts that, as a result of the increased viability of remote work, larger firms with multiple offices may choose to move smaller offices to cheaper locations in order to cut costs, whilst retaining a main HQ in busier and more productive cities. Baltimore features numerous office solutions, making it a perfect location for businesses seeking flexible office space of all shapes and sizes.
Additionally, the shockwaves caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may also impact Baltimore’s burgeoning co-working scene, as illustrated by WeWork’s decision to back out of plans to open a space in Harbor Point. As businesses come out of hibernation throughout the city, employees have been faced with a different kind of workplace. Concepts that were formerly championed as the future of office space, such as shared desks, common areas, and open-plan layouts, have been replaced with contactless environments complete with an abundance of sanitation products. Tightly knit co-working hubs have struggled to adapt and appear appealing in recent months as companies recognise the dissonance between placing multiple employees in a shared space to ‘collaborate’ and the concept of healthy social distancing.
Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to rethink all aspects of how they conduct business, from the ways they communicate to the places they gather to work. Flexibility has become the name of the game. Previously a buzz word concocted by savvy marketers to promote amenity rich workspace, flexible working can now be seen to represent a happy medium between remote work (facilitated by digital communication methods such as Zoom) and in person collaboration. Recently months have proven that employees, operating from home and on staggered schedules in the office, are capable to continuing their work outside of the rigid structures formerly promoted by traditional office space. Whether it’s in at serviced office atop a skyscraper in Baltimore’s CBD, or a kitchen table located in the suburbs, employees are pushing forward and meeting targets.