The pandemic and national lockdowns have turned our personal lives and working worlds upside down. After months of forced participation in a comprehensive work-from-home experiment, our expectations around work and the workplace have fundamentally changed accelerating the trend towards flexible and agile working.
The workplace has shifted from a binary space where the choice was between working at a desk or in a meeting room (workplace 1.0) to an open-plan desking environment interspersed with the occasional sofa and pool table (workplace 2.0). Attention is now turning to the workplace of the future – what will individuals want and need from their place of work post-Covid?
Fans of home working argue that there is no need to return to the office. Their homes have permanently replaced the need for a shared office. But supporters of the office argue that there is a need for a place where we solve problems together, create solutions with colleagues and generate social capital.
How companies approach the post-pandemic workplace will depend on the nature of their businesses, their culture and the opinions of their leadership. What will Workplace 3.0 be?
Could Workplace 3.0 be a destination? A collaborative and social hub but with space for quiet work, that is aesthetically attractive, and that reflects organisations’ environmental and social beliefs with a focus on wellbeing? Workplace 3.0 could be the ultimate enabler of productivity, a recruitment and retention tool and the key post-Covid success and growth.
Why do we need the office?
Why do we need home-working?
- The office is the physical heart and soul of a business, reflecting its brand and culture.
- Without it, you have a remote, fragmented collection of individuals loosely connected by a company name
- The office gives us the ability to interact face-to-face - whether in formal meeting rooms or in accidentally in the kitchen. Our body language, hearing eachother and camaraderie contributes to a gold standard of collaboration.
- People absorb learning and gain wisdom through sitting alongside their more experienced colleagues
- Swapping the commute for more time with friends and family, as well as the financial saving and environmental benefits can boost people’s sense of wellbeing and productivity as well as contributing to an organisation’s sustainability goals.
- No distractions; many people have asserted that it is easier to get complicated and detailed work done whilst at home
- Animals, children and caring responsibilities – everyone who bought a lockdown puppy, is juggling caring for elders or children can be more available for these responsibilities whilst working from home
Can workplace 3.0 effectively combine the benefits of all of the above? Can we really have the best of both worlds?
Things every business needs to consider
- While the Covid vaccines are gradually reducing the risk of further lockdowns and the need for social distancing in workplaces, business leaders must think about the possibility of future pandemics
- Location: Will organisations change location, adopting a hub and spoke model?
- Landlord & Tenant relationships
- Workplace design and floorspace
- Office culture
- Environmental Concerns
As we continue to navigate our way through easing restrictions and the threat of a potential winter lockdown, many businesses will no doubt be looking for feedback from their employees as to how to achieve the best balance.
In my previous blog, I had spoken about how flexible working options might impact the Legal industry
. But Workplace 3.0 reaches far beyond any particular market vertical and encompasses so much more than working from home options.
With so many impacting factors still up in there, it may be some time before we see any real clarity as to what the workplace – if such a physical place should still exist – will look like.
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