In the new hybrid era emerging, the office maintains its fundamental value in terms of the workplace model that will prevail. As long as it is flexible and efficient.
The same digital transformation that has allowed many companies to survive the pandemic is the one that will help them enter the realm of the hybrid workplace model that is clearly going to prevail.
An “experimental” model in which each entrepreneur will be asked to decide what suits the needs of his own business and what helps his employees be more productive. On the other hand of the same equation, for the first time in history, more employees than ever will have the option of working from home (with all the advantages and disadvantages that it entails).
If there is one thing sure in the midst of the ocean of uncertainty that we all face, it is that we will never go back to the concept of work and office the way we knew before the pandemic. The sooner we realize this, the faster we will recognize and take advantage of these increased mobility opportunities.
Although it is too hasty to draw reliable conclusions, the preliminary international surveys reveal that people still prefer to work in the office, although they now have other options. Just with more autonomy and flexibility than before. The main reasons for this are:
Creating a climate of cooperation
The existence and diffusion of corporate culture and philosophy, which has been proven to positively affect the overall business performance, creativity and cohesion of a team, is obviously more manageable with the office at the core of corporate activities. An atmosphere of cooperation and enhancement of employees’ personal development is easier to create when employees of all levels coexist in the same -specially designed- open space (and especially in public areas, the value of which stands out even more). No matter how many days a week, these employees choose to use the office.
Separation of professional and personal space
If anything, the pandemic has proven to us is the difficulty of working from home. Especially when this happens simultaneously with the rest of the family (spouses, children). Even if you were one of the lucky ones who already had a home office (or went through the renovation process to achieve it), you would find that personal and work-life limits were non-existent. According to dozens of psychological researchers, this enhances the feeling of stress that we feel by the simultaneous and mandatory management of all relevant obligations. Having a workplace like an office boosts concentration and productivity, even if we choose not to use it permanently as before.
Possibility of interaction
Sometimes you need to lose something to appreciate its value. This is precisely what is happening right now with the so-called “lost time” before a meeting starts and the five-minute unexpected encounters in the hallway or in the kitchen where employees could talk about the TV series they saw last night or a detail about a project that one member did not know. These valuable dozens of small interactions, which helped build trust in a way that is not possible through zoom, ultimately prove to be the reason why even companies that – organizationally and technologically – do not need it are expected to choose for their employees to coexist in the office a few days a week. It makes it even more necessary to redesign these spaces to meet the new health protocols and enhance creativity by creating many small multipurpose meeting & brainstorming rooms.
It is true that, in the short term, working from home boosts productivity as in-house workers end up working longer hours and, virtually, with no precise hours. However, in the long run, the non-existence of a specially designed- office, as a meeting place and coexistence hub of the team, ends up steadily decreasing productivity. Employees start to feel like outside partners, rather than organic parts of the group, showing signs of psychological fatigue from diffusing the boundaries between their personal and work lives.