As they return to work, employees of website platform Contentful Inc. are getting an eyeful of their new offices in Berlin and Denver and a realigned headquarters in San Francisco, which include hallmarks of the post-pandemic workplace — a theater in Berlin and group rooms in San Francisco that are devoted to interactive meetings, with kitchen space doubled.
“We think the office is a social place first,” Contentful Chief Executive Steve Sloan told MarketWatch. “The office is where the great ideas are hatched — especially in an idea-centric economy.”
Millions of tech workers are slowly making the migration back to offices as millions become fully vaccinated and states lift restrictions. At Contentful, all 550 employees, including Sloan, will continue to work from home most of the time, and occasionally venture into the office for socializing and collaboration.
But many of those returning may not recognize the new digs, which are largely being designed to foster a nexus of ideas shared in theater-like settings and socially-distanced conference rooms, with specialized break-out areas for brainstorming and socializing. Workers will need to get used to the new office lingo of dynamic spaces and hoteling.
“It’s about going into the tunnel, and coming out of the tunnel,” former VMware Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Poonen told MarketWatch, about a conservative return to the office. “This is sort of like a traffic jam — you slow down, and then gradually regain speed. We will get back to normalcy.”
Tech companies — among the first to ask employees to work from home during the pandemic — are leading the return to the office by the fall. Their reopening plans offer a glimpse into office life of the next few years, with a heavy emphasis on a hybrid work model and three-day work weeks onsite, as well as no vaccine requirements. California’s COVID-19 state of emergency order will remain in place beyond June 15, despite plans to fully reopen the state’s economy on that date, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.
“Three days a week [in the office] is the new five,” Twilio Inc.
Chief People Officer Christy Lake told MarketWatch, noting that 77% of the company’s employees said they miss the office. “The claims that ‘the office is dead’ are over-hyped. The truth is that the reasons people come into the physical office are changing.”
Dynamic spaces will occupy a key part of Twilio’s plans. The San Francisco-based company has revamped offices with specific areas for open collaboration, community and socializing, heads-down work, and flexible multipurpose spaces, said Lake, who added that some employees will trickle back to Twilio’s Bay Area offices beginning July 14. Employees have the option of working from home throughout the year.
Pre-pandemic, many in Silicon Valley were…