With huge fluctuations and discrepancies in Covid-curves between countries it’s hard to say where the next weeks will take us, but no matter your location the return to the office is looming closer. So what have we learnt from our time hibernating at home? What did we miss, what did we enjoy, what did we learn and what should we bring into the future; whether it being in an office, at home or in a hybrid version between the two.
The social part – Many report about how much they miss the everyday contact with their colleagues and the lack of new thoughts and inspired ideas while being confided to home. The ad-hoc meetings by the coffee machine or anywhere within the office premises while ambulating from meetings and desks. Physical connection, after work drinks and other events within the comfort of an office space is something that has left many people longing for normality. Many people also mention the downside it has on creativity and the ability to come up with new, inspiring ideas when you’re not changing atmosphere, views or the social context during the work day. However, in exchange for regular office interaction, other reports mention that the lockdown has given us a more intimate view of our co-workers life, by impromptu video-call hijacking from kids to pets, and a mirror into each other’s home life. It has forced us to go the extra mile to engage and build team spirit. Managers and leaders in charge need to reach out in new ways to show guidance and support which in many ways have led to new channels of communication – channels that in various instances have formed new and closer relationships. Is it possible to keep the old time office interactions and blend it with the new modes of communication, and in that case, what positive impacts could that have to businesses team spirit?
Staying productive – Working from home brings an abundance of temptations that are hard to resist. Instead of finishing what you actually need to do, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ’I’ll do it tomorrow’ and dedicate your time to whatever is in front of you – whether that being your phone, laundry, cleaning, kids or anything else – it all seems so much more tempting when it’s right there. In order to function as efficient as normal it’s important to keep your regular 9-5 schedule and allowing yourself to shut your computer when clock strikes home time – and also to actively remember this during the day so that, in your most dreary working moments, you know you will be rewarded at the end of the day. Many companies are actively considering the ’hybrid virtual model’, where some teams will work remotely and some in the office, or alternating between home and the office in various capacity. This could be a way for the employees to enjoy ’the best of both worlds’, where the people that thrives in the office are welcome to work from there, and the people that increase productivity while working from home can continue doing so. This could also be a gate opener to a more high qualified workforce. When the position no longer is restricted to a specific location you may be able to attract a greater scale of people from various backgrounds that will enhance your skill-force as well as increasing your workplace attractiveness on the market. Another palpable effect from home-based offices are the obvious time, money and environmental savings that’s achieved by not going to an office every day. By adapting to a hybrid virtual model, perhaps some of those savings could continue being harnessed in a flexible way.
The crucial help from technology – As we are all aware the work from home would not be able to happen in the first place without the technology. Zoom, Teams, Office, Cloud and connectivity are enablers for millions of people around the world and the crutches to which we lean on when physical encounters aren’t possible. Despite the many opportunities that a remote office provides there’s an acknowledgement that a fully virtual work environment is not a suitable option for all markets – suggestions are that customer service, PR, marketing, research and information services, software development, among others, could fit in the virtual model whereas other markets need to operate as a physical or at least a hybrid virtual model. Working from home opens up to a whole new range of technological aides that may be needed to function at maximum capacity with full or partial teams being remote. For example, tools and platforms are increasingly important to measure your employees well-being. When a team becomes physically dispersed you can’t rely on old methods but instead need to explore new ways of keeping on top of your business, an area where various apps and various platforms will become great helpers. Some are already on the market and some may be in waiting for development – what this pandemic has shown is that situations changes fast and technology needs to be created in the same pace to be able to keep up.
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