Google companies

These companies don’t think office space in Utah will ever be the same


OWhen office spaces around the world emptied out with the spread of Covid in 2020, many people expected to be back in the office in a matter of weeks at most. While some employees have now returned to their offices, others have spent the past two years seeing return-to-work dates pushed back repeatedly. According to Castle datain April 2022, building occupancy rates remained at just 43.1% of reported occupancy at the start of 2020.

As big tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft finally bring their employees back to the office, more than two years after they were sent home, many people wonder if work environments will soon return to pre-pandemic standards.

But three Utah companies, CallForce, Recursion and Kiln, don’t believe that will ever happen. Instead, these companies think Covid has permanently changed the way we use office space, for the better.

When Callforce CEO Cory Pinegar noticed that his employees still wanted more flexibility, even as the pandemic slowed, he implemented a permanent work-from-home policy.

“The objective of the remote move was to achieve [that] this is where the workforce wants to be. So why are we fighting this? Pinegar asks. “We don’t require people to be in [the office] constantly because we believe that flexibility in work can actually lead to better performance.

Pinegar says the recent shift to remote work has already made a difference in hiring, and Callforce has drawn hundreds of applications from across the company.

“We realize that people can be very efficient at home, while avoiding travel, spending more time with their families, and reducing the ridiculous amount of gas they would spend to get somewhere.”

While working remotely has many benefits, Pinegar says it’s important not to lose all the benefits of in-person collaboration. That’s why CallForce brings the leadership team together in person for important discussions and decisions.

“Collaborating and communicating from a strategic standpoint can be more challenging when you’re only meeting people on camera,” says Pinegar, “having those meetings in person can be really helpful, [which is why] we believe in having a small amount of flexible office space.

And they are not alone. Growing demand for flexible office space has prompted Kiln, the Utah-born coworking space, to announce a major expansion in downtown Salt Lake City. The expansion will nearly double Kiln’s office space available for freelancers, remote workers and teams who need something more flexible than traditional office space.

“While I would say most employees like the flexibility of being able to choose where they work, I think over time people have recognized the importance of coming together,” says Arian Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Kiln.

According to Lewis, most Kiln members use the workspace an average of 2-3 days a week. He thinks physical workspaces should deliver the kind of value to workers that you can’t get from a home office.

“If people are going to leave the comfort of their home, or the golf course, or wherever they’re spending their time right now, they need a nurturing environment,” Lewis says. “Offering variety actually allows for different kinds of conversations.”

With refreshment rooms, deep work rooms, parent rooms, walk and bike desks and a cafe, Kiln’s space is full of variety.

Lewis thinks the way we used to think about office space isn’t going to cut it into the workspace of the future. The physical space should be designed to foster creativity and the sharing of ideas. He says inspiring worker interactions “are sparked by a variety of equipment and the workspace around you, allowing for diversity, inclusion, authenticity and frankly, just a bit of fun and excitement, which reduces stress and actually creates better results for employees.”

Heather Kirkby, Recursion’s director of human resources, agrees and explains how the pre-pandemic idea of ​​spending 40 hours a week in a traditional office space is outdated.

” For too long [we’ve] I thought of the workday in a very dated industrial-age model, like five days a week, 40 hours a week, the nine-to-five model, which has its roots in the last century,” says Kirkby. “As a mother, I want to participate in school activities. I want to do things that require me to get out of my job in this nine-to-five construction in the past that I felt really trapped in.

As Recursion expands its offices in downtown Salt Lake City, its goal is to maintain the new flexibility discovered when working remotely. Recursion employees work remotely 60% of the time, and that time can be divided as they see fit.

Kirkby explains the change in workspace thinking that has happened during the pandemic. She says: “As difficult as it was in some dimensions, it showed us that there were different ways of working that created huge amounts of flexibility that honestly hadn’t existed in workplaces before.

While remote work options create flexibility rarely found in pre-pandemic physical offices, Kirkby believes humans need in-person interaction to thrive.

“As we struggled with the fact that humans need a human connection, it’s at the heart of our species; space is going to play a very important role,” says Kirkby.

This belief is one of the key factors driving the need for expanded creative office space where employees can collaborate and encourage creativity during their work time.

“I think one of the dynamics of all of this change is that it really puts an appropriate burden and responsibility on employers to make workspaces great,” says Kirkby. “People should want to to come to the office. People should have an amazing experience when they are in the office.

Just as Pinegar and Kirkby believe that meeting the needs of their company’s employees is essential for long-term success, Kiln’s Lewis states, “If talent really is the engine of success in business, then taking care of that talent, take care of that talent, put that talent in big environments, enhance or speed up, the quality of the production of that becomes really critical.

As office spaces make a full or partial comeback in a post-pandemic world, companies getting creative with space and prioritizing environments that allow employees to thrive will set the standards for the future of spaces. of offices.