Unexpected ways offices will change post-lockdown
We’re becoming experts in remote working. Some things we didn’t anticipate changing but are becoming more apparent as we go on…
We’re all wondering what’s going to happen when we’re all called to return to our ‘normal’ working lives in our offices. Will it be the same? Simply, no. Here’s how things will change.
Online meetings won’t be seen as a secondary option.
We’ve all seen an abundance of people posting screenshots of their online meetings with friends and family. It’s been a novelty to a lot of people. The more we do them, the more normal it becomes. Now, it’s an acceptable form of participation.
Sure, if you’ve got an important client meeting or something business-critical with a director, an in-person meeting is going to be superior. For routine meetings, though, video conferencing is going to be a consistent first-option. Remember meetings that could’ve been emails? Now we might think “this could’ve been done online. Everyone involved gets their time back to focus on other tasks.
We’ll all be happier
Remote workers are used to email, chat clients, ticket systems, online meetings and generally interacting online somehow. Those who aren’t are now acclimatising to the change and becoming more efficient. Employment is having to become more flexible. Work-life-balance has had an important impact on employee satisfaction for some time. Working from home has become a key part of the employment experience and through lockdown, we’re seeing control over this work-life-balance has now become more important than salary. The point is, workers have more flexibility and control, which is what they’ve been asking for.
Employees still need an attachment to their company, their job, work and colleagues. They’re finding that they’re getting this need satisfied via the online communities they’re a part of.
Offices will be seen as a risk
The formerly uber-cool office building will be seen as a breeding ground for germs.
It’s going to take us all a while before we’re comfortable generally being in close proximity with a group of people. This could be a death sentence for open space working environments.
Equally, personal cubes could be seen as restrictive. People begin to feel like cattle rather than protected in their own space. Office designs will have to take social distance into consideration. We’ve talked about how it’s possible to be creative in a team in a remote situation.
We’ll be more trusting
A company now experienced with working remotely will value trust.
Working from home with no one physically there to drop by your desk or look over your shoulder means we’re trusting one another more to do what we say we will. One key comment from managers is that they don’t know if they can trust their employees to work autonomously. There’s a lack of visibility on workers’ routines and workflow.
HR professionals are reporting repeated concerns from line managers regarding their staff productivity. But are these worries founded? There is plenty of evidence pointing to remote workers being more productive than their office-based colleagues. Perhaps now we’ve gained some experience, attitudes will change. Some people are simply better as homeworkers than others; they have different willpower, discipline, personal preferences and home environments.
We’ll communicate better
Companies should facilitate various communication methods that make their staff feel comfortable engaging with their colleagues. This might be a chat client or video conferencing. The key is to encourage the use beyond just work chat. Being able to have a laugh with a peer is the crux of forming a strong bond with them. Having the right online communication tools also allows us to build trust with one another, knowing they’re always there and available, but we have the autonomy to not feel pressured to be always-on. You want something that is flexible and personal.
An advantage of the lockdown in our internet-based era is that we’re becoming more comfortable with these tools and as a result, our relationships are strengthening.
Ultimately, some of us will be better off for this experience, but this isn’t guaranteed. It doesn’t take long to find an abundance of evidence to say that if a job can be done from home, people are likely to be more productive at it than in an office environment.
Increased productivity isn’t the only benefit to the employer. They save money, they have happy staff and ultimately this means improved retention rates and a tightly-bonded team. Fewer days lost to sickness, too.
The debate goes on. Remote working isn’t for all people in all jobs, but there’s so much evidence that it can work incredibly well in some environments that we should be using this time to reflect on the benefits this situation is having.
If you’re looking for references to the evidence we’ve been discussing, a great article to start you off is here in Forbes Magazine.
We’ve always been a remote company. If you’d like any advice on how to make things easier for your current situation, we’re happy to talk.