The workplace has changed dramatically in the last year and a half – something that hasn’t happened since the Internet was introduced. What happened during this time will determine the way we will work in general in the coming decades. According to Wall Street Journal, as a result of the above, several basic rights have emerged that employees already feel are mandatory or and will motivate them to return to the office.
According to the latest research of McKinsey & Company, before the pandemic, the conventional wisdom had been those offices were critical to productivity, culture, and winning the war for talent. Companies competed intensely for prime office space in major urban centers around the world, and many focused on solutions that were seen to promote collaboration. Densification, open-office designs, hoteling, and co-working were the battle cries.
During the pandemic, many people were surprised by how quickly and effectively the different technologies of digital collaboration were adopted. For many, the results have been better than imagined. This all, together with the effectiveness of the home office, resulted in the general outlining of new and more progressive rights for the employees as well.
The freedom of choice
Until 2020, in most companies, besides the IT industry, the working from home model was allowed only as an exception and not for all levels of employees. COVID-19 has shown that we have the right to choose how, where, and when to perform our duties. And managers have realized that this choice can actually have a positive effect on employee motivation, productivity, and well-being.
According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people questioned report that they enjoy working from home. Forty-one percent say that they are more productive than they had been before and 28 percent that they are as productive. We had the chance to see in practice what we already knew – every employee is different, has different needs, different work ethic and work dynamics. Some people work better early in the morning and others – late at night (larks and owls). When the workflow is synchronized with the characteristics of the employee, the tasks are performed more efficiently.
The option for personal space
The coronavirus epidemic has made it clear that although offices have changed in some ways during the past decade, they may need to be entirely rethought and transformed for a post–COVID-19 world. Organizations now must create workspaces specifically designed to support the kinds of interactions that cannot happen remotely. To maintain productivity, collaboration, and learning and to preserve the corporate culture, the boundaries between being physically in the office and out of the office must dissolve.
In the post-pandemic world, however, it is unthinkable to return to the „old normal“. Each of us is now fully aware that the right personal space is inalienable when it comes to the work environment, health and well-being.
This rising need to rethink the workspace is already leading to serious discussions regarding the efficiency and overall look of the office. Re-designing the office space is becoming a priority
The option to communicate
The social element of the office, the opportunity to get together and exchange ideas are those seemingly inconspicuous elements of the office life that no digital technology has been able to completely replace.
According to McKinsey, a transformational approach to reinventing offices will be necessary. Instead of adjusting the existing footprint incrementally, companies should take a fresh look at how much and where space is required and how it fosters desired outcomes for collaboration, productivity, culture, and the work experience. That kind of approach will also involve questioning where offices should be located. Some companies will continue to have them in big cities, which many regards as essential to attract young talent and create a sense of connection and energy. Others may abandon CBD headquarters for suburban campuses with parks and more open common areas. Employers should also consider giving employees flexibility regarding their schedule and workplace as a competitive advantage in the labor market in attracting and retaining talents.
All these new needs of the employees, born from the interesting times that we are living in, motivate the formation of new, hybrid office space and environment.
The office projects that have large open areas, operable windows, access to fresh air, landscaping, greenery, and flexible work solutions will be more and more in demand from now on.
All the outlined new rules and rights of office life are logical, following the unnatural situation that we were in during the pandemic in 2020. The “old normal” will never return as it was, the old ways are long gone and not working anymore, we must understand that the “new normal” is here to stay and the only way we can make it work is to adapt.