Whatever the government’s official line on returning to work, it’s fair to say that the office will never be quite the same. Some employees are already returning to their desks following risk assessments from HR and facilities teams, but once the novelty has passed, they’re finding that things feel a little different.
The wayfinding stickers and sanitisation stations now dotted around offices remind workers of the risks they take by being there, while the spread of ‘keep your distance’ signs does little to enhance office communication or a sense of community after a prolonged period apart. Many of the moments employees missed during lockdown (the coffee machine chats, the lunchtime socials, the close collaboration and thought-sharing) are proving only marginally easier to fulfil than they were while working from home.
Meanwhile, business owners are starting to come to terms with the realisation that these safeguarding measures are a quick fix and – looking longer term – an alternative solution is needed.
Finding a balance
While headlines proclaiming the ‘death of the office’ are a little far-fetched, companies might well need to right-size and rethink. One certainty stemming from the pandemic is that those employees now accustomed to logging in remotely are likely to demand more of a balance between office and home working to enjoy the benefits that both offer. For business owners, this means establishing systems that allow flexibility yet maintain pre-Covid-19 levels of productivity.
Inevitably, headquarters will continue to play a key role in maintaining a strong company culture and the ability to collaborate, innovate and push the business forward. Yet re-establishing your office as an attractive destination, encouraging people back in and supporting a hybrid working model where staff can work efficiently from anywhere will be key to the future of work.
Returning to winning ways
Get ahead of the game with a re-evaluation of your workplace that focuses on user experience. Define what made the business successful before and analyse the impact of the pandemic on the business and your people, appreciating how the characteristics of your business will help you to be successful again in future.
Next up, work out how you can transition quickly from the skeleton crew of today to a buzzing, safe environment when social distancing guidelines eventually ease. Consider how small details such as furniture reconfigurations, new technology integration or building adaptations can provide greater occupancy and communication but can also influence the psychology of your employees – resulting in a more fulfilling workplace experience and greater employee loyalty.
The expert view
The workplace might never be the same but there is some stability on the horizon and now is the perfect time to re-engage your team, reduce the reliance on home-working (making it a choice rather than a necessity) and make life work for your business and workforce once more.
Our Hybrid Working programme focuses on three stages – Fit For Now, Fit for Tomorrow and Fit For the Future. We’re currently supporting businesses through the first two phases, focusing not just on safety but on flexibility, human sentiment, space optimisation and user experience.
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Our Hybrid Working October Report delves into how you can redefine your workplace, reduce your real estate footprint and reinvest in areas of your business that support your new ways of working.DOWNLOAD THE REPORT