Do offices make sense after Covid-19?

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Although offices are no longer the daily workplace for some, they can be used for recruitment, onboarding and training. Photo: Getty

When the world shifted to working from home at the onset of the pandemic, the adaptability of employees quickly became evident. People not only discovered that they could do their work from home, but in some cases, they could actually do their jobs better.

According to a survey of 1,000 UK workers last year, 58% said they had been more productive working from home. More and more employers also agree with workers, with two-thirds (63%) saying they plan to introduce or expand the use of remote or hybrid work to some extent.

Remote working has since become the norm, with many employers offering workers the option of working from home at least part-time. But with fewer people going to the office every day, are large, money-intensive workplaces in danger of disappearing? And what will the offices be used for in the future?

“While the lockdown may have eased, office work has not returned to pre-lockdown standards,” said Richard Evans, career mentor at The Profs. “Many new hires still have not met their colleagues or managers, so the best practices of the company have not been fed into the new hires. “

Read more: How to encourage staff to return to the office if they are reluctant

Although offices are no longer the daily workplace for some, they can be used for recruitment, onboarding and training.

“It is essential that new members of an organization can observe and observe the functioning of their more experienced colleagues and this is best done in person in the office,” says Evans. “Once a team member is fully integrated, knows their managers and colleagues well and understands best practices, then they can benefit from flexible and remote working. “

Second, the culture of a brick-and-mortar business is difficult to convey online, says Evans. Offices can serve an important social function for team members to build trust and get to know each other outside of meetings and stressful situations.

“A well-functioning team requires team members to know each other beyond their job titles and I think the offices will be used as social hubs for team building events and parties,” says -he.

Offices are also transforming into places where people meet, collaborate and mainly bring clients and guests. Not all employees want to work remotely full time either. Even commuting to the office one or two days a week can provide a much needed change of scenery for workers, who may find it difficult to separate their personal and professional lives at home.

“The new workplace is not just about the physical boundaries of an office, but also the employee experience,” says Julie Ennis, CEO of Business Services at Sodexo UK & Ireland. “Many workers have long commutes, so they need a reason to come. They want to feel comfortable and to feel in an exciting environment where they get more than what they get at home – to feel part of the culture of the organization and to experience it in a way. tangible.

Read more: How to get noticed when you work from home

After more than 18 months of full-time remote work, some companies are considering eliminating their offices altogether to reduce rental and overhead costs. Some may downsize or move out of expensive downtown offices. However, it depends on the nature of the business and the service it provides, as some may need a decent space to meet clients or hold meetings, even if it’s just once a week. .

“There are clearly sector differences between those who are back in the office full-time, part-time or even remotely,” explains Ennis. “However, we have done a tremendous amount of research throughout the pandemic, and this research has told us unequivocally that the office is still an important place for the majority of organizations.”

“The pandemic has been difficult, but it has also given us time to reflect, assess and change. Organizations should seize this opportunity to improve their workplace and put their employees first, ”she adds. “Despite the continuing trend towards hybrid work, we believe the majority of employers will retain office space as social interactions, whether in a meeting or an impromptu catch-up, will help fuel creativity and collaboration,” which is essential for any organization. ”

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