COVID-19 has this Vancouver tech company reconsidering its open-concept office space
‘I think playing foosball and buffet lunches are out for us now,’ Igor Faletksi says
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing a Vancouver technology company to reconsider how its open-concept office will function as it moves toward a remote-first work model with its employees set to continue working from home for the foreseeable future.
Igor Faletksi, CEO and co-founder of Mobify, says the focus for his team is "definitely shifting" from how to have a great office culture to creating a safer workplace.
"I think playing foosball and buffet lunches are out for us now," Faletksi told As It Happens host Carol Off.
However, he says there are plans to start "a very gradual return to the office" in order to see how to use their facility in the safest way, then "gradually ramp up over time."
There will be changes in this "new post-COVID environment," he said, including holding meetings with fewer people, more space between them and, as often as possible, outside.
He also said the company will give more flexibility to employees about how often they want to come into the office.
Unlike other companies that are considering returning to cubicle work spaces or installing shields between co-workers, Faletksi says Mobify is not planning to implement those measures.
Instead, he says the company is opting to creatively arrange their office to accommodate more space between desks.
"I think the [pandemic is] actually going to accelerate the shift to a healthier office. Maybe also having a mixed-use mode where everybody is not there 9 to 5 every day," he said.
"In the long term, it will actually reshape the idea of the office."
Considering the "current economic environment," he says it's likely these changes will come as a "gradual shift" — unless the government steps in to financially help workplaces to make the transition.
Faletksi says team members aren't rushing to come back to the office, adding that some employees are pushing to work from home "100 per cent of the time" because they find it more productive.
"I think a new balance is going to be really important to find. I still believe it's important to have face-to-face connections with colleagues [and] that need is not going anywhere," he said.
"But we need to do that in new ways which don't feel unsafe and don't require people to commute a long way every day if possible."
Workplaces are also going to have to figure out how to deal with business-related travel, he said. Being able to fly overseas to see customers and clients is "not going back to where it used to be."
"Now there's just more acceptance that you can do a video call and maybe have a trip once a year versus once a quarter."
Written by Adam Jacobson. Produced by Katie Geleff.