Remote work or getting back to the office? | ERGOLAIN

remote work or getting back to the office?

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In early 2020, Facebook announced building a new office space worth over 1£ billion to accommodate 1,000 new employees. In May, of the same year, the company declared that half of its employees will chose remote work. This is just one of the examples of how a global pandemic has influenced the needs of the corporate office. Therefore, the ‚new normal‘ have raised many questions about the necessity and purpose of the workplace as a physical space.

It is difficult to take a gage how the company results can be affected by the changes of work concept. During pandemic, work had to be transferred to employee (specialist) rather than wise versa.  Although, companies are adapting to the current situation, they are still trying to create the best possible working conditions to bring workforce back to the office. Most likely, organizational leaders have a reasonable fear that the connections, shaping the office culture and corporate identity, may be lost. Successful leaders monitor the emotional dynamics of their employees and builds individual connections accordingly. Motivating, encouraging, and providing feedback becomes much more difficult when building a relationship remotely.  Professionals of telecommunication have not found a solution that would work as successfully as communication through physical connection. The main reasons include, reduced communication frequency, longer intervals between messages and incomplete focus when maneuvering between other communications and activities. These aspects can cause misunderstandings and accidental mistakes that can affect work quality and results. Interestingly, researchers also studied the influence of proximity on employee communication, and found, that even physical presents such as being in the same office, room or building floor, positively influenced active involvement in collaborative problem solving and mutual assistance considering that physical proximity also facilitates conversational initiatives.

Remote work challenges

Restrictions to work in the office, which began as temporary precautionary measure, become a challenge, that led to the search of new work strategies to maintain company’s culture. The new elaborative structure of working from home, is mostly concerned on how to maintain employee’s productivity and efficiency. Therefore, companies are actively adapting to the idea of working remotely and creating an efficient process ecosystem. New technological solutions are being discovered to meet the requirements of diverse workforce. Companies also tailor work schedules and manages time accommodating preferences of the workers. What is more, investments are made in physical and emotional wellbeing to reduce negative factors caused by office work restrictions. These integrated changes show how perception of the employee shifted in a positive direction admitting that employee is a driving force of every company.

What employees would prefer: remote or physical workplace?

In latest few years, the global pandemic has forced us to rethink workplace needs and alternatives. With the help of investment, the companies can guide the employee in a direction the managers see the most effective organization of work. Thus, partly, companies have the ability to influence the employee’s workplace choice by facilitating one of the work environments.  However, the final decision will belong to the employee and according to the latest data, about 20% of them would continue to work remotely, a third of the surveyed would choose the combined nature of work and the remaining 50% would return to the offices.

Future office - how it will look like?

However, companies that remain loyal to the concept of office work will not escape innovation either. Future offices might have a slightly different purpose then we are used to. Perhaps such a future will create a new description to the term ‚office ‘. It will be a space for collaborations and creativity rather than individual focused tasks. Spaces will be adjusted for both formal and informal communication. The need of privacy will encourage implementation of spaces with the right acoustics. Work surfaces, lounge areas, furniture with adjustable settings will help the office space make the most out of minimum creating an ergonomic environment. In the current situation, we can see that the employee and his needs has become at the center of the company. Therefore, regardless of preferred work location, implemented innovations and new work conditions promise a positive change in the sphere of work organization.