Does this sound like your typical Monday morning at the home office? You head to your kitchen to put on a pot of coffee as you fire up your laptop on your standup desk. You put an away message on your calendar around noon so you can take your child to school for half the day. When you return an hour later, you host a Zoom meeting with your team to check in on their progress. Your day ends around 6:30pm when you break for dinner.
There is no question that our “offices” have looked different in this almost-year of COVID-19 quarantine. Not only have our workspaces changed, but our flexibility has been altered dramatically, as well.
Certainly, there have been positives and negatives about the modifications we’ve made in our traditional nine-to-fives. Now that we’ve seen what an alternative working life looks like, what workplace changes will stay the same after quarantine ends? Here, we’ll discuss five of the most significant.
New Options for Working at Home
McKinsey & Company report that 80 percent of workers enjoy working at home at least part of the time. With increased satisfaction and productivity, more offices will likely offer workers opportunities for either mostly-remote or partially-remote work-from-home routines for the foreseeable future. You could use this option as a perk for your team to set their own schedules.
However, McKinsey & Company is not sold on a fully-remote schedule: “A monthly trip to headquarters or a meeting with colleagues at a shared destination may suffice. This approach could be a winning proposition for both employers and employees, with profound effects on the quality of talent an organization can access and the cost of that talent.”
In connection, your team’s schedule won’t be set in stone from week to week either. Instead, your colleagues could choose when and how they work. One week, they may need to come into the office every day, and the next, they may avoid it altogether. They may schedule half of their meetings on Zoom and half in the office. Do they need to go to the dentist? Perhaps they’ll work in the afternoon and evening to finish a project.
The world of work has seen how productive employees can be when left to monitor themselves, so the standard nine-to-five day in a physical office doesn’t seem so necessary anymore. In fact, Forbes suggests that 54 percent of workers would leave their current jobs if they could find different ones that would let them work more flexibly.
Altered office spaces.
Especially if some of your employees will be working from home, it may be time for a rethink of the footprint of your campus, as well. After all, the larger and more traditional your campus, the greater the overhead.
“In a post–COVID-19 world, the potential to reduce real-estate costs could be significant,” McKinsey & Company notes.
Specifically, companies may choose to vary their office space holdings to include co-working spaces and flexible spaces, along with a balance of owned offices, standard leases, and flexible leases. In other words, the places where we work could look vastly different even after the pandemic ends.
As social distancing has become a mandate, we’ve seen workers come into the office on staggered schedules. Another benefit for workers has been that they don’t have to spend hours commuting to the office each day.
Both of these ideas could find their way into the future world of work. Speaking to the BBC, office experts noted that staggered work hours could help employees avoid rush hour traffic or packed public transportation. On days they don’t need to commute, they would save time and energy.
Architect Amanda Stanaway suggests that a “shift to home working could ‘liberate’ parts of the workforce such as working mothers and those who live far from major cities and have struggled to find work.”
Improvements to the Home Office
Remember those early pandemic photos of workers putting their laptops onto their ironing boards? One of the problems with working from home pre-pandemic was that workers simply weren’t equipped to work effectively from home. Some workers didn’t have a space for a home office, or a place where they could host uninterrupted Zoom calls. Others didn’t have strong enough Internet connections for WFH.
Over time, though, workers have created dedicated spaces that allow them to work efficiently from home. Forbes also notes that creating reliable Internet in people’s homes has and will continue to be a priority for Internet providers.
Improved technology not only has made WFH more functional, but an increased number of people working from home will also drive innovation in our post-pandemic future.
Will the Office Be Obsolete?
Our post-quarantine world of work will not look entirely different than it did before. We’re missing out on the collaborative, collegial environment we can only have in the office, especially the casual social interactions that just can’t be replicated on Zoom. Offices and regular hours won’t become extinct, but experts predict that working from home one to three days a week could benefit not only corporations but their employees’ well-being, as well.
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