The Office Isn’t Dead, but It Must Be Reborn
Over the last 18 months, the way we work has changed almost beyond recognition. We have gone from spending eight hours a day in an office to answering emails in bed — and many have found the latter suits them better than the former. Now that the world is reopening, many workers have little desire to go back to the traditional office environments.
In light of this, flexible work arrangements — in which workers have the freedom to work part of their time remotely — appear to be the way forward. Note that flexible work differs from fully remote work: There is still value to be found in traditional office settings. Sure, you may have to change out of your pajamas, but it’s worth it.
Here’s how to turn your office into a worthwhile place to be in a post-pandemic world:
Why Your Office Still Matters
Onboarding and Training
One of the major challenges of remote work is onboarding and training new hires. Remote onboarding has become one long video call, but for many, the opportunity to shadow colleagues in the office would be a far more valuable learning experience.
Training is a great way to make use of your office. By onboarding new staff members on site, you can show them firsthand how your business operates, walk them through their tasks, and facilitate face-to-face interactions between new hires and their new teammates.
A strong company culture depends on an environment where employees feel supported, empowered, and connected to one another. Fostering such a culture is worth your time, as it not only improves employee well-being and team relationships but also drives business performance.
A cohesive culture is harder to build when everyone is interacting through the internet. Use your office to host social events and team meetings so colleagues can really get to know one another and build a shared culture.
While technology has made working as a remote team easier than ever before, it still doesn’t capture the same magic that in-person meetings and conversations have. The value of impromptu brainstorming sessions in the office shouldn’t be underestimated. An office can provide a communal space where employees can convene to offer advice and support to one another.
After months of working in the space where you spend your home life, some employees may be itching for a change of scenery. The office can be a place employees go when they need to escape distractions, roommates, or even the solitude of working from home, rather than a place they feel obliged to be.
Keeping Things Equal
Your employees are not all in the same exact boat financially, infrastructural, or in terms of equipment. Businesses should be places of equal opportunity, but some of your team members may not have the space, Wi-Fi connection quality, or hardware to work as effectively from home as others. Your office can be a way to level the playing field, giving every employee access to the same level of equipment so that they can do their best work unencumbered.
How to Bring Your Office Up to Date
If you want to reap the aforementioned benefits of the office in a post-COVID work world, you may need to make some changes to your workplace layout and equipment.
One of the best ways to prepare your office for optimal productivity is by adapting certain areas to certain tasks. Think: quiet spaces, team and meeting rooms, and comfortable places to take a break. If you have room to spare, you might even create recreational or on-site fitness areas, making your office a place where employees will be happy to spend their time.
Now that you no longer need a large office building to house every employee at once, you might also consider downsizing to smaller premises in a location that would be more accessible for your employees — perhaps somewhere with great public transit options.
To serve the needs of a flexible workforce, your office also needs to be equipped with the right technology. A workplace management system can help facilitate a safe, streamlined return to the office by tracking how many employees are working from the office at any given time. You can also use booking and facilities management tools to help your physical meetings and coordinate resources and equipment so that any employees who come to the office always have exactly what they need.
The office as we know it will become a thing of the past, but that’s a good thing. The office of tomorrow will offer more value to both you and your employees than ever before.
Jane Holmes is the head of marketing and communications at Cloudbooking.