Return to the office.
Similarly as putting on masks in public places has become natural, working from home and hybrid work do not surprise anyone. A new working environment is being created right before our eyes. More flexible, individualised and less focussed on one location. Such changes mean a number of challenges especially for employers. We have looked closely at the current situation on the labour and real estate markets, gathered insights and analysed the results of research to better understand and help others to prepare for changes.
Three most probable work ecosystems for the coming years and the benefits and challenges connected with them:
Remote work will stay with us for longer.
1) Research indicates that many employees have found themselves in the new reality and have no intention of coming back to offices under the old rules. The biggest benefit of this situation is the possibility to employ specialised staff regardless of the location. The key task of the employer is to determine which activities are better supported by work at home and which of them are more effectively performed at the office. Companies also need to understand how remote work has changed their employees’ behaviours and habits.
According to the Leesman research agency, remote work is a good solution only in the case of a small number of tasks requiring concentration. In the case of high complexity of activities performed, the office offers considerably better working conditions. Why? The atmosphere at home helps us to focus. There are no distractions typical for the office – we do not hear talking and phone sounds in the distance, no one passes our desk, no one distracts us with informal chat. And we also save time and money on commuting. Researchers from Leesman have investigated in what home conditions we work best. Of course in a separate dedicated room, and if we do not have such a room, in a place arranged for remote work: a table, chair, computer, good lighting and access to the Internet. The worst option is to work ad hoc – sitting on a sofa, at the kitchen table or standing at the windowsill. Researchers have also checked what we miss when working remotely. At first, companies equipped employees with devices that gave everyone permanent access – to Wi-Fi, network drives, video conferences.
The things employees find most inconvenient to do without and are least satisfied about include access to a printer and scanner, and then an ergonomic chair and desk. It is a more complex issue. No one knew how long employees would work remotely and everyone treated this model as a temporary solution. Meanwhile, home office turned out to be effective, and the time has come for more systemic solutions. Employees may receive a subsidy for additional costs of working from home. They may be permanently provided with a height adjustable chair or desk. Finally, the system of benefits is changing. Until now, employees have received private medical care or gym membership as a benefit. Today, the first cafeteria systems, such as Motivizer and Nais, have added chairs to their offers. A chair or gym membership. Both offers are good for the health, and the employee may choose what is best for them at a given time.
Office as the area of working together.
Offices with open space proved to be ineffective increasingly often even before the pandemic. Too much noise and too many distractions caused problems with concentration. Now most desks are empty and their ‘owners’ work from home, where they can often perform their duties more effectively. What should be done with the unused area in offices?
The change of several individual workstations into a few hot desks may be a good idea. In this way, people working in hybrid mode will have a place in the office and the space gained may be used to create places for working together. Even before the pandemic, there were no places in offices to organise internal meetings or to perform creative work. This area has not been appreciated so far. Research shows that a lack of face-to-face meetings constitutes the biggest problem during remote work. Interactions between employees strengthen bonds and build the culture of the organisation. It is worth creating space where employees can meet, talk, exchange knowledge, but also do some brainstorming, carry out training and work together. In this case, the choice of appropriate furniture is important. It should be easily adaptable, mobile and soft, encouraging employees to rest, talk and exchange experience.
An important role is also played by different types of partitions, such as mobile screens, sliding walls, pots – which will allow an easy rearrangement of the space – dividing it or opening it up. The key is flexibility, i.e. the skill to adapt the space to the needs of the moment – so that different teams can work alternately, but also when all employees need to meet in the office. Building a friendly work environment does not only involve the arrangement of furniture, but also taking care of an appropriate atmosphere affecting the culture of the organisation and improving the team cooperation. Employees need training to make best use of the solutions proposed, to strengthen relationships and to build the feeling of belonging.
3) Coworking offices are growing in popularity.
3) They constitute a chance for employees who value independence and freedom to choose the place of work or for those who do not have the possibility to separate an office at home (or do not want to do this). It is also a great solution for the employer. According to the Leesman research agency, 55% of remote employees will consider the use of coworking space as a solution for remote work in the future.
Employers choosing a coworking office can benefit on many levels. By doing this, they do not undertake long-term financial obligations and can freely look for talented employees all over the world. Employees gain access to a space allowing healthy and ergonomic work and to most advanced top-level equipment. It is estimated that currently in the world there are 35,000 flexible workspaces, which means that companies have a wide choice allowing them to provide their employees with an ideal working environment. The possibility to get to know new people from many sectors, to exchange experiences and to establish business contacts is also a great advantage.
In our guide to new work ecosystems, we indicate areas which require some changes. Our guide includes advice for companies that want to remain competitive and attract the best talents, and at the same time to retain reliable employees. An appropriate arrangement of the office or home space has a significant impact on the team productivity, creativity and well-being. In this way, we can build attachment and commitment. Use our advice and be ready for different scenarios. And if you need more information, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org