There have been dozens of surveys conducted by top companies like PcW to outlets such as LinkedIn on how productivity has increased during the pandemic. These findings have led to a lot of talk about whether offices will become obsolete, and if work from home is here to stay. Yet productivity is only one measure of success in a remote work environment.
There’s no doubt productivity has increased and many companies will be making changes to their work from home policies. However, a surprising 50 percent of the 120 US employers surveyed by PcW Research & Insights said they anticipate more office space in the coming years—not less.
In part due to social distancing regulations, many employers also share their concerns about the long-term impact of remote work on innovation and creativity. They are instead considering how to use office spaces more creatively to accommodate hybrid on-premise and work-from-anywhere models to encourage collaboration and community-building.
And while the majority of workers in the UK and the US report that they would like to continue working from home after the pandemic, many also say they would like the option to come into the office a few days a week or as needed. Their main reason is to collaborate with team members—something they admit is difficult to do remotely.
The Long View
While many employees have been able to step up and adjust quickly to a pandemic, it begs the question of for how long they can remain this productive. “We are all adjusting to a home environment that may have never been designed for extended periods of focused work,” says Justin Barner, Product Manager at Simplify VMS. This is especially true for parents, not to mention the burnout many are experiencing due to constantly staring at a screen.
The office environment tends to allow for more organic, free-flowing collaboration, Barner adds. “It is difficult to reproduce the ‘water cooler talk’ in a remote setting.”
According to YouGov in partnership with LinkedIn, 43 percent of workers say they are communicating with their colleagues less than they did before and just over half feel lonely working from home. And Forbes cites some alarming statistics about burnout and mental health concerns due to remote work. To turn what has been considered positives—no distractions from coworkers or a long commute—into negatives, many of us go straight into work mode as soon as we wake up and work heads down until end of day without pause.
However, as employees move out of cities in anticipation of a permanent remote work situation and with new employees being onboarded remotely, a culture of remote work has already been established at some companies. According to LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index, companies such as Twitter and investment bank Jeffries say that even when offices formally reopen, workers will be able to decide how much, if at all, they will return on-site.
Now is the time for employers to blend the best of both worlds, taking into consideration what we have learned motivates employees to be productive at home and what helps spark innovation and collaboration in the office. “Employers who do not adjust their work from home policies and office culture will not survive in the long run,” says Mouhanad Abbas, SVP of Operations & Technology.
How do you anticipate your workplace culture and policies to shift as employees return to the office? We would love to hear your perspectives. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
This article is part of our new series on the Future of Work where we uncover the latest trends and best practices to prepare for the workplace of tomorrow.
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