It’s now October 2021. The pandemic commenced early 2020. It’s been a long time really! It may also be a long time until organisations settle on what will work best for them going forward. Large or small, there is a need to determine what works best for business AND the employees. We’re all in this together and therefore we need a solution that works for all. I really don’t buy into the fact that employees have all the power mentality BUT I do believe that they should be listened to and that their options are greater than they ever have been.
Thinking about the future for a business has many angles to consider so below are a few thoughts:
- Office space: Every organisation has a different footprint in terms of space. There is no magical formula that works for all. Imagine that, a simple mathematical equation solves it all. Some organisations do not require a fixed abode and can manage through short term rented space as and when they need it – the utter definition of space-as-a-service. While larger corporations have choices to make – overall commercial space would be reduced. It’s a simple math equation again. Less people in the office each day means less space needed. However, more adaptive space and more communal space could mean floor space isn’t actually reduced but more reworked.
- Talent: It’s become the word. Not sure anyone would actually call themselves talent but I get the logic for third party use. Roles vary from organisation to organisation. Some roles really have no fixed abode. They can be performed anywhere – that’s great for people who want to live and work in completely different locations. The last 18 months have opened this door well and truly open. Some roles still are location dependent. Creating the experience for “talent” is key. They want to understand the culture, the strategy and the part they play in it. There is a need to really think about the role and how it can be brought to life to attract the best.
- Costs: Every business wants an eye on the costs. It’s the human nature of organisations. There are decisions to be made though in terms of how the future will work. Balancing the desire to potentially reduce space and therefore save money but the investment you then make in the employees – whether their workspace at home, access to SaaS locations or other incentives. The last 18 months to me has shown it can’t always be about the bottom line but creating a workplace people want to work at – which may mean you have to spend more money than before, just on different things.
- Culture: From discussions it is clear that the WFH scenario of the last 18 months has been tough on some people. Let’s separate the WFH normality vs WFH in a lockdown. That said there is still a need to ensure there is a clear divide between work and home and companies need to explore ways to combat individuals burning out while working remotely. Remember remote working is not the same as office working and therefore this needs reflecting in the culture of the organisation.
- Productive: My balance of home, office and other remote locations all serve a purpose. You need to plan more, and make the trip worth it. I spend time curating my trips to London – I don’t want to be run off my feet but if I’m in London I want to get as much IRL in with the right people. Supporting people to manage their time is key. Technology can help here but also it’s a behavioural point.
- Health & Wellbeing: There are two angles here – hopefully working remotely has allowed people time to focus more on what matters to them in this respect – a walk at lunch, a run or swim before/after work. Making the most of lost commuting time and putting to good use. There is a negative to that work from home perspective – ensuring you have the right set up at home can help avoid injury – back particularly. I managed to find a good standing desk (well it’s some shelves that make it really easy) and this has helped keep that posture. My wife has also lent me her gym ball to sit on too! As an employer, focus on making sure the set up is right for people and that they have the protected time for wellbeing focus.
- ESG focus: Certainly the E aspect should have benefited – less commuting surely is a good thing. But have we really embraced ESG as a whole and is this not the turning point. Thinking more broadly about how an organisation is tackling these areas lends itself to many other strategies of a business and certainly an area that external stakeholders focus on.
There is only one real defining conclusion – change is here and if you are unwilling to change then prepared to be disrupted. If you haven’t considered the above at all – well now is the time. You may still be dabbling – that’s fine, you need to find the balance that works so it won’t happen overnight and for those who have pushed on hard. Well done. I would say still sensecheck after a period of time to make sure it still works for all internal and external stakeholders.