What is the Future of the Office Post Pandemic?

WITH THE GOVERNMENT RECOMMENDING A GRADUAL RETURN TO OFFICE

Many employers and employees maybe wondering what that looks like...

With the government recommending a gradual return to the office over the summer, many employers and employees will be wondering what that looks like.

One thing for certain is most office workers don’t want to go back to a 9-5 work day in the office, and if forced to, it will likely lead to what many are calling ‘The Great Resignation’.

According to research by Monster, 95% of employees are considering leaving their jobs, and other data from EY Global found that 54% of workers from around the world would consider quitting their job if they’re not given some form of flexibility in where and when they work.

We’re already starting to see signs of this. Tech giant Apple made headlines earlier this summer when they sent out a memo telling staff they would be required back in the office by September, with at least three days a week spent in the office. Apple workers pushed back on this, with their own letter saying that this decision has led to some to quit.

It’s no surprise, with both staff and companies benefitting from remote working, with 80% of people enjoying working from home, 41% of employees saying they are more productive now than when they were in the office, and businesses are able to expand where they hire from (McKinsey). So employees who feel they’ve proven they can be productive at home don’t feel that companies' justifications for wanting them back in the office stack up.

But, not all employees have been thriving in the last year. There are some who don’t have a dedicated office space or who find their mental health impacted by the blurring between home and work life. For those employees, returning to the workplace can help. Ezra saw that 29% of their employees saw a positive improvement in their work-life balance when they were back in the office.

The best solution for everyone is for employers to work with their teams individually to come up with a solution that best works for them. But if that solution is remote or hybrid, where does this leave the physical office?

What Should You Do with Your Office Space?

The consensus of many employees and employers is that the future of work is hybrid, combining both time at work and time at home. So where does that leave office space?

The first step is questioning what you will need your office space for and looking at new ways of working.

When the pandemic started, many employees just moved their existing processes to remote work, so now’s the perfect time to work with your teams to establish different methods that will work for everyone in the long term, wherever they are based.

For example, you could consider if certain stages of projects like the initial creative and planning stage would be better if your employees could get together in person to brainstorm, but when they move to implementation that could be done remotely.

Next step is to see if you need to redesign your physical space. Many businesses and office designers have been looking at making the work environment a place that supports the types of interactions that can’t be done remotely.

This could be creating more collaborative spaces to support group working, or places in the office to socialise, or training rooms to facilitate employee development. Also consider those employees who would rather be in full time, who might need spaces away from everyone else to concentrate and hot desks for those who only want to be in occasionally.

Your office needs to support your teams in how they want to work, and make your office a destination.
 

How to Make Sure Working From Home Stays Productive:

Although many of us have been working from home for a while now, we may not have the best routines to ensure we’re staying healthy and being productive. Here’s some advice you can give to your employees:

Stick to a routine:

Swapping your commute when you’re working from home for time spent getting some exercise or making a nice breakfast are both great ways to start the day! Plus, it will help you keep a consistent routine for the days you’re in the office. You can also use the evening commute to get outside in the fresh air and go for a walk, this can help switch our minds from work to relaxation.

Remember to take breaks:

When we’re working from home, without the distractions or interruptions of an office, it can be all too easy to keep working and miss our breaks. This can cause eye strain and impact our long term health.

Turn up the music: listening to music while we work can help boost our mood and increase productivity. Here’s the best genres to recommend to your employees!

Don’t Forget to Adapt Your Benefits:

For many employers, the office space used to be a place full of benefits to attract and retain talent, whether that’s free tea or coffee throughout the day, or table tennis tables in common areas. So it's important to continue providing those benefits even if the physical workspace isn't being used as often.

You can adapt your benefits by:

  • Giving your employees choice: rather than a discount at the gym nearest the office space, let them choose what’s convenient for them. This will allow your employees to make the most of the discounts while you continue to support their physical wellbeing.
  • Offer cashback or vouchers to all: swap offering food at work for discounts or a cashback card so your employees can save on their food shopping. You could also send out vouchers so your teams can treat themselves to a coffee or a lunch out every now and again.
  • Set up their home office: some of your staff may still be working from their kitchen table, beds or their sofa. A great perk for remote staff, or those who are hybrid working, is giving them some money so they can fund a proper home office set up.

If you’re not sure where to start with adapting your employee benefits to ensure your home and office-based working is ticking all the boxes, we can help! Get in touch with our experts today to find out how we can help guide you through using employee benefits and rewards and recognition to improve your staff’s experience at work and at home.

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Sources:

Monster
EY Global
McKinsey
Ezra