The current global pandemic response has led to speculation about the future of work. Remote and home working was once the preserve of a minority of the workforce. Then, as the pandemic gathered pace, a wholesale shift towards remote working suddenly moved the goalposts.
With many employers reporting increased productivity with the introduction of remote working, many business and work commentators have been predicting that the communal office design space may soon become a thing of the past.
While remote working is now an integral part of how a business operates, the long- term demise of the office may well be overstated.
Here are some of the reasons why communal offices are likely to be around for some time.
The need for a central base
A company headquarters is usually about more than just an address. It’s also a means by which the company ethos and image is communicated among the workforce, to consumers and competitors. Even if more of the workforce is based at home, the central headquarters is unlikely to become history. Some of the world’s biggest tech companies, who have been quickest to adopt remote working, invest heavily in showpiece headquarters such as Google’s 2million square foot Googleplex in California.
Optimal working environment
The office environment is often designed with productivity and employee comfort in mind. A range of technological and other resources are at hand to help employees achieve their goals, a lot of which are difficult to recreate at home. Finding space to work, and ensuring you have everything on hand is often easier said than done. While the fantasy of working from home may seem idyllic, the reality of creating a work/life balance when you have a busy family and especially where space is compromised is often more complicated.
Tech support on hand
Anecdotally, one of the greatest difficulties people have faced during the great shift to remote working in 2020, is the vagaries of technology. If software or hardware doesn’t work, it can be much more difficult to get the necessary support if you are working from home. An office tech department can be on hand to resolve issues as quickly as possible. When this is done remotely, the level of tech support necessary is vastly increased, and may not always be readily available.
Team building and bonding
Working together, as part of a team, has its share of challenges and rewards. Part of the skill of recruitment is putting together a group of people who not only have the required skill set but who can also come together as a team. It’s not just about working efficiently, it’s also about the combined team being greater than its parts. Creating, and sustaining teams is difficult enough when working remotely, allowing that team to then add value is even more so. Offices allow people to work together, exchange ideas, debate, bond, be creative and overcome difficulties over time.
Monitoring performance, rewarding progress
The performance and progress of an entirely dispersed team are much harder to measure than one that’s based in an office. With remote working, an assessment may be based on a number of hard measures, that while giving some indication about how well an employee is progressing, fail to take account of other factors. Someone may be making progress through how they approach and manage their work that’s not yet showing up in performance indicators. A good manager will recognise that progress and encourage them further.
While the switch towards remote working represents a perhaps necessary corrective in the way we work, it’s unlikely to result at the end of the office. Instead, fewer offices, perhaps with more of a showpiece element, built with blended working in mind are likely to become increasingly common. For further information and details, get in touch with Flow Office today.