Can flexi working and the office become the new hybrid?
This year's coronavirus pandemic has affected both businesses and individuals alike, in ways we never saw coming.
Companies have battled to stay afloat as the economic market grinded to an abrupt halt. And for individuals, we had to adjust to a life where family, work and home all merged into one. But as we creep into September, many of us are asking the question: how do we return effectively to work once offices start re-opening?
Speaking to many clients, September has been the buzz word for a while when it comes to returning the office. Many feel ambiguous about whether or not re-opening offices will be the right move, but in order to bring some semblance to the madness we've had, this looks like a practical solution. Of course, not all companies are rushing to return to the office come September. Media reports show that 30 of the biggest employers in the City of London, only intend to bring between 20% and 40% of workers back for the rest of the year. With many companies offering a return to office, purely as a voluntary choice. This seems a logical solution for many, as it is benefitting both the business and employee.
So where does that leave the office? For generations, the office has been a microcosm for economic power; time spent in the office meant not only profit, but it created communities, ideas, networking, stability, and much more. And now we’re expected to have all this in our own homes whilst communicating to a third of a person via a screen. The lack of colleague interaction is definitely missed and is likely to have a knock-on effect for many businesses.
Ideas are being thrown about which in some ways will help save the office and all that it's achieved. One possible solution is to herald the office as the new social hub for employees. An integral part of anyone's job is the social aspect. Over 80% of employees stay in a job for more than three years, not because they love the job, but because they love the people they work with and the social element it brings. It's logical to allow offices to stay open on a voluntary basis, but to add emphasis on using it as a place to meet up with colleagues, find out how they're doing, actually physically see them again!
However, it is realistic to say that working from home is here to stay. Too many people are turned to this way of working and I agree with them. There are many benefits, both personally and professionally, in having this flexibility. But, I personally believe it's not the time to forget about the office either.
All companies are different and will find different ways of operating work from both home and the office. It's important to protect lives during a pandemic, but we must also look at ways to adapt to a new way of working that suits both the office and the home.