Workspaces have changed significantly since the onset of the pandemic. Despite these changes, we have to wonder: is the work ecosystem ready to support fully remote teams? Based on details gathered from our network of hybrid and remote teams, I have come to the following conclusions:
1. U.S. professionals still need some degree of office space
Remote work for flexible teams requires a considerable shift in work culture. Without consistent colleague interaction, in-person team building, and spontaneous meetings, it can be difficult to sustain company culture. According to Indeed, a worldwide employment website for job listings, organizational culture has transformational power that leads to elevated productivity and decreased turnover. Working remotely takes a more focused effort to create a collaborative team experience, encourage team bonding, and onboard new hires. To accomplish this, teams will need to utilize software designed to support remote work through efficient project tracking and dynamic communication channels.
Teams who were already operating remotely before the crisis have typically adapted more easily than those who worked entirely in-person. Many teams who are new to remote work are facing new challenges, further complicated by the unique circumstances brought about by the pandemic. Teams have been working from their living rooms, dining room tables, or converted garages and are often sharing that space with family members who are also working and virtual learning remotely. Even slow Wi-Fi and noisy neighbors can be major detriments to teams’ productivity while working remotely, raising mental health concerns among leaders across industries.
To address these concerns and foster strong remote teams, organizations will need to work harder to cultivate morale and potentially increase communication spending. For many employees, working from home is an option that they’d appreciate having, but when the crisis is gone, they’ll be excited to return to the office. So, while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for remote teams, there are tools that leaders can utilize to provide different workspace options to suit all needs. One such option is flexible, on-demand workspaces and turnkey offices.
2. Cities will bounce back
Younger generations at work (who, given digitization, will remain a key recruitment target) have been the least impacted by technological impacts of the virus. It’s unlikely that their location preferences will fundamentally change as a result. Young professionals still largely want the urban experience with fast access to culture and a centralized hub for social gatherings. Most importantly, from a social and productivity perspective, Millennial and GenZ employees are the demographics struggling the most to work from home.
Post-pandemic, companies will rely on a hybrid office model with distributions in both urban and suburban areas. Urban offices will likely be downsized but still used as the HQ for collaborations.
3. Centralized offices are not sustainable
Many companies today understand that employees want flexibility and claim that they offer it. But, in reality, many people who need workspace flexibility don’t have access to it.
The most crucial type of professional flexibility comes down to location. COVID has forced many companies to rethink their current centralized office plan to offer new and unique workspace location options to their teams. Companies are now beginning to provide multiple flexible office options to continue attracting top talent.
During the pandemic, working from home was less of a trend than an enforced necessity. Now that we can reflect on the many challenges this created for employees, we know that, the in-person office is still necessary. We can’t revert to the workspaces of the past, but ultimately we aren’t quite ready for a completely new work configuration.