A virtual office provides you with a business address without the physical office. What are the benefits of this?
Innovation in the physical workspace is something we are all familiar with. Get the right mix of people in the right environment with the right process and big ideas begin to flow. But how well does innovation work in the digital workplace? With the start of the second lockdown this is a key question for us all.
No doubt your CFO is delighted at the reduction in energy, telecom and office fit-out bills during lockdown. McKinsey cites real estate as ‘the largest cost category outside of compensation’ and estimates that its costs could be significantly reduced in a post-COVID world, with those moving to a fully virtual model nearly eradicating them entirely.
Remember the halcyon days when life was about self-fulfilment? Going to work and being part of a company were opportunities to realise your potential, grow personally and be rewarded for a job well done. Before the pandemic we were living at the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
For those of you who have not thought about Maslow recently, here is a reminder. He posited, back in 1943, that humans have five levels of needs. Those needs lower down in the hierarchy (physiological, safety, love and belonging) must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up (esteem and, ultimately, self-actualisation).
As you put together your plans for post-COVID working it is worth reflecting on what makes a successful workplace.
According to global architects Gensler a great working environment, that delivers high levels of employee engagement, must satisfy four work modes...
How has your team fared?
While initial reports showed that productivity rose during lockdown, the big question is how sustainable this is in the longer term. Research from McKinsey in June found that while 28% of people working from home reported being as productive as they were, and 41% claimed they were more productive, it could have been the product of social capital built before the pandemic hit rather than due to the special merits of working remotely.
One of the positive outcomes of the pandemic is the proliferation of innovative design solutions for the post-COVID workplace, whether in terms of sanitation, seamless connection between physical and remote locations, or rethinking the role of the office itself.
In the immediate post-lockdown period the design focus has been on minimising health and safety risk for people at work with strict new hygiene and social distancing rules. ‘Right now, what humans want most is safety, the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’, says Kay Sargent, director of HOK’s global WorkPlace practice: ‘If people don’t feel their basic needs are met, if the bottom of the pyramid is not solid, you cannot achieve the things that are higher up like collaboration, trust, bonding.’
How are your people coping with working from home and the prospect of continuing to do so for another six months following this week’s Government announcement?
While satisfaction levels among older employees have been generally positive, reactions from younger workers are less enthusiastic. One of the biggest challenges is the loss of office camaraderie. For younger employees in particular, work life is much more than what you are paid to do. Stripping away social aspects like catching up with colleagues on Monday morning, office banter or drinks after work has a natural bearing on the culture of an organisation and, in our case, interacting with our members promotes happiness and wellbeing within our team.
What is your company view: continue to work remotely or go back to the office? Many businesses appear polarised. Pinterest has recently paid $90m to end a new lease obligation in favour of a more distributed workforce while CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings pans homeworking, saying that he does not see ‘any positives’ at all. The reality is that a third way is emerging. In this hybrid model, businesses are looking to combine the best of both worlds with employees spending part of their time in the office and the rest working virtually, depending on the tasks that they need to fulfil.
Lockdown has seen a huge increase in a more sedentary lifestyle for a large proportion of the UK. This is having a negative effect on posture and spinal mobility, especially for those sitting for long periods of time in chairs that are not ergonomically designed, as they perhaps may be in their office.