As professional life begins to return to normality, two distinct camps of opinion seem to be emerging.
On one hand are those who have seen the benefits,convenience and efficiency of the rise in remote working over the pandemic and are suggesting that, perhaps, the physical office is quickly becoming a relic of the past. Recently, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, claimed boldly that his entire workforce could, in theory, work from home.
However, equally, on the other hand, there is a large camp who have coped with remote working but miss the productive, creative and social environment of an office. Younger workers, in particular, have reported the struggles of working out of small flats or their busy family homes, whilst working parents have found that Zoom meetings and crying toddlers are not a good mix. Whilst many saw an initial boost in productivity from working from home, five months on, many have struggled to keep this up and are missing the social benefits and creative stimulation of an office space.
At AW, we don’t see these differing opinions as necessarily contradictory. In many ways, both have got a point. So, what’s the solution? Does working from home and working out of an office have to be a binary choice? Not necessarily. We see the future of professional life as situated somewhere in between the two.
Companies should be returning to work embracing aspects of remote working, whilst simultaneously, maintaining a physical, office-based presence. This base does not have to encompass all employees, however, should act as a home for the aspects of a company most suited to physical interaction and discussion.
A company can therefore retain the convenience and cost-efficiency of home working by fielding some employees remotely. This hybrid model allows for the best of both worlds, drawing in the benefits of remote working learnt over the pandemic, whilst not forgetting the increased motivation and collaboration that only comes through a physical office space.
Therefore, companies should be planning their post-lockdown return to the office effectively, asking the right questions to plan not just for the next few months, but the next few years. Which aspects of the company can be operated remotely? Which aspects, and more importantly, which personnel, would benefit more from a physical office environment? Can this be changed on a flexible, ongoing basis?
Using co-working spaces such as AW allows for a smaller,cost-effective and collaborative office, working alongside a wider network of employees remotely. The result is a perfect balance between the two models of work and a break from the inertia of the past. This is our vision for the future of professional life.