Is this the end of office working?
For some jobs, lockdown resulted in mass remote working, to the point some companies are considering adopting it permanently. Will the pandemic change where and how we work forever? What will the post-lockdown world of work look like?
In many countries, the Covid-19 crisis and ensuing lockdown prompted companies to move to remote working in a matter of days. While post-lockdown life is slowly returning to the “new normal”, in some cases, employees are less inclined to return to the office. The idea of working in an office has become less attractive because for many employees, working from home offers many advantages. And it seems, employees are not alone in considering remote working as a long-term option.
In the immediate term, some companies are looking at extending remote working, at least partially, after the health crisis. Among the most significant announcements, Facebook and Twitter announced they were going to prioritise working from home over office working. And these measures don’t just apply to the tech sector. The PSA group, for example, has announced that from now on, working from home will be the rule and not the exception.
On of the main reasons is economic. In the current crisis, cutting costs is essential. And real estate costs are far from negligible. Setting up remote working during the lockdown has forced many companies to invest in remote working solutions, so they’re now looking for a return on this investment
Rethinking organisations around their employees’ digital experience
The lockdown experience has shown that working from home is possible with the right tools. However long-term teleworking raises many organisational questions. Some are warning about the emergence of a two-tiered business, with remote workers feeling like second-class citizens to those working in the office, benefiting from management’s ear and greater opportunities.
This requires a complete rethinking of corporate life and new digital trajectories. As so much work is done online, this is also the medium for employees to maintain the spirit of corporate life. This is the approach of GitLab, a company, which is now so decentralised it has 1,200 employees working across 65 countries and many offices. To promote corporate culture they have adopted a number of rules and rituals. Beyond zoom calls, DJ sets and virtual cocktails, a whole lifestyle is now organised online.
Will offices completely disappear?
From health and safety measures to physical distancing, the post-lockdown world means employees going back to the office won’t find it as they left it. But for decentralised companies, it is the role of the office that will change the most. From a daily workplace, it will become a place of meetings and collaboration. Keeping a space of your own with teams that work manly from home would be illogical. Because workspaces must be left empty after use, the model is changing from an open desk to a "clean desk". From now on, workspaces will become meeting spaces, and how to do this successfully will be one of the major challenges for the future.