Is homeworking here to stay?Published 11.03.21
Coronavirus has brought about a huge shift in the way we typically work, although some believe that this shift is long overdue. Where it was commonplace to see a desk-to-staff ratio of around 1:1 in many organisations before the pandemic, the question now asks itself, is this still the most efficient use of office space considering flexible working?
Whilst the government has laid out a positive and exciting roadmap out of lockdown, a roadmap back to the office has not yet been established. This is causing organisations to take differing approaches to the future use of their real estate. For example, BP employees will be asked to spend 40% of their week homeworking, whereas Goldman Sachs expects to have all their staff back in their offices by the end of 2021. Although this is only a sample size of two organisations, it gives an indicator that there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to tackling this challenge.
Solution: Reviewing how your office benefits your organisation.
As indicated above, there isn’t a perfect solution. However, practicing homeworking for over a year has provided a fantastic opportunity to challenge why our offices are beneficial to our organisations. Now that most of us have had a real-life experience of staff working at home, the pros and cons of agile working are tangible rather than theoretical: we can see if staff are more productive; we can see if staff are less collaborative; we can see if staff are more innovative.
The first step is to identify what the office is used for. Is the current space your staff work in crucial to the outcome of their work? Do they need a permanent desk placement within the office? Although this is more likely to apply to blue-collar staff, it is still relevant to office workers. This is proved by the fact that many organisations have a small contingent of staff based in the office to offer crucial support to clients and other staff members, which can’t be done remotely.
How has the work your staff carry out changed since 23rd March 2020? For example, although virtual meetings were gaining popularity even before the pandemic and social distancing was introduced, they have soared in the last 12 months. If this is the case in your organisation, should employees be using your office space if they have a full day of video conferencing?
How are team members collaborating together? Many of us have got used to working more independently over the last year whilst homeworking. This has had its advantages as people were able to focus entirely with minimal distractions. However, with certain projects, collaboration is more efficient, stimulating creative solutions and the much-needed, face-to-face human interaction.
Although this solution only poses more questions when planning the future use of your real estate, it is important the questions are reviewed to understand how your real estate can be utilised more effectively.
Want to speak to a workplace specialist about your real estate strategy?