Panelists at the 14th Regional Community Partnership Forum said June 8 that workplace shifts that already were in progress were brought about by the Pandemic.

Stakeholders and employees now have a greater voice, are resisting returning to the office full-time and have begun seeking more incentive and purpose in their work, said Daniel Olberding, associate vice president at CannonDesign.

He said companies have had to accelerate their timelines for cultural change and embrace the future of work.

People are brushing up their resume. Expectations are high. The focus is on equity.

Ian Gordon was the vice president of community impact and engagement at the United Way of the National Capital Area.

With its lease set to expire this year, United Way officials began looking for spaces that would allow them to turn the traditional office arrangement of executive offices with windows on the periphery, cubicles for lower-level workers in the middle, into something else.

He said that now only the organization’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer have dedicated space.

Olberding said employers must continually evolve, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

New mindsets and behaviors should be promoted to empower employees. Employers might consider desk sharing and stipends for technology to give workers a sense of personal space.

Provide work spaces that are flexible.

Technology can accommodate a hybrid workforce. Olberding definedphygital as a mash-up of physical and digital, which he said was used to bring people together, not to separate them.

Master collaboration by encouraging a youthful spirit, increasing the number of focus rooms that offer acoustical privacy and providing social hubs that allow for face-to-face encounters

Bolster camaraderie by providing social areas for movement. Olberding said the goal was to create a sense of belonging.

Employees can break away and process information with the design for well-being. He said that the offices would have a “hospitality feel” and be “inspiring and equitable”.

Businesses should try out some of their new ideas in pilot studies.

The mixed-use development on the bank’s global headquarters in Tysons is considering a hybrid work force where employees can blend in-person and remote work.

Capital One leaders are trying to differentiate the company and ensure employees have a dynamic workplace because of the high demand for new talent.

Gordon said that permanent return to in-person work doesn’t count.

He said that the genie was out of the bottle. Going back to the office will not be the same as before. Being people-centered is what it’s all about. People have choices as to where they can work.

The Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Fairfax, and the United Way of the National Capital Area were all present at the forum.

According to Tony Womack, executive vice president at Transwestern, 30 to 35 percent of workers have returned to the office. 40 percent of employees now work from home or another remote location, up from 60 percent.

The office buildings with common amenities are the latest trends.

Tenants are looking to improve the quality of space when relocating, including the provision of casual spaces.

The rate of vacancies for buildings within a quarter-mile of Metro stations has gone up to 4.8 percent, while the rate for structures farther away has gone down to 11 percent.

Some companies are choosing to have a centrally located main office surrounded by satellite branches that are more convenient for workers living in those areas.

Capital One sees the idea of being together powerful and is taking the opposite approach.

The retail recovery in the Washington metropolitan area is continuing.

55 percent of people spend more on experiences than they do things. Sixty-six percent of people don’t mind shopping in stores and 62 percent don’t care about dining in restaurants, he said.

It is not affiliated with InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media.

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