Now, a year into COVID-19, organizations find themselves at crossroads. A reinforced set of employee drivers are reshaping the immediate (and long-term) future of work, leading discussions around work from home, work from anywhere and working in the office. Leading companies to contemplate serious questions:
A few prominent companies have been quick to adapt. Twitter announced back in May of 2020 that employees would be working from home “forever" if they chose. Siemens established location-independent working 2-3 days a week as their new standard worldwide. The effect this flexible working has on Corporate Real Estate Management is apparent as well. Fujitsu now wants to reduce Japan's office space by up to 50% and promote remote working as the default mode for its 80,000 employees.
“Companies and employees alike may look to combine the advantages of both worlds and the flexibility of remote working combined with colleague interaction. Companies that want to win the war for talent must unite both worlds.”
These examples of forward-thinking, and adaptable companies highlight two insightful points:
Due to the pandemic, companies and employees are likely to have a stronger understanding that business can continue to function under remote circumstances. In 2020, the digitalization of business became a necessity rather than a “nice to have.”
12-months into the pandemic, it is now up to organizations to decide if this operational model will remain the new norm. Like most organizations, employees want variety and flexibility. Surveys show traditional office versus remote work will be a decision driven by employees.
Many employees appreciate the flexibility working from home offers, though not everyone is likely to want an exclusive remote working model. Diverse living situations, with the presence of kids, partners, roommates, pets and even space, can impact quality and productivity when working from home. Another challenge with remote working is the lack of contact with colleagues. Data suggests physical proximity and the unmediated in-person interaction with colleagues propels creativity and fosters company brand and culture.
On the flip side, the flexibility and autonomy provided through the remote model represent a huge sign of trust and empowerment to many employees. An additional benefit of working from home and the time traditionally spent commuting can now be utilized for recreation or personal errands allowing employees an undistracted, renewed focus on work.
Companies and employees alike may look to combine the advantages of both worlds and the flexibility of remote working combined with colleague interaction. Companies that want to win the war for talent must unite both worlds.
Hybrid Workplace Models may be the key to a more flexible office future as it encompasses many possible solutions. The Models allow employees the freedom to determine when to work and where. Ideally, Hybrid may offer the best of both worlds: structure and sociability on the one hand, and independence and flexibility on the other. If the office is to succeed in the hybrid world, it will need to function differently. This includes the traditional office location to meet with clients and alternative sites closer to employees' homes. The Hybrid Model of work-from-home, work-near-home, or even work-from-anywhere gives employees the optimum flexibility to choose the workspace that suits them best. From a company's point of view, employees in different areas can collaborate to utilize locations when certain types of work require them to do so. These locations can also represent a company's vision and culture, contributing to a feeling of belonging and purpose.
The challenges of this new Model are real, nonetheless so are the opportunities to reduce real estate costs, supercharge productivity and engagement, empower employees and develop a new level of customer intimacy.
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