Zoom meeting and hybrid setups where employees spend varied amounts of time working from home and offices look set to stay, and businesses will have to adjust their working environments for the foreseeable future.
The new year is almost here and many people are wondering what will happen to the world of work in 2021.
Will we see offices full of people again or will people continue to work from home and just drop in at the office now and then? Will offices become smaller? Is everything going to change?
David Bernstein, director of Pulse HR Consulting, says he continues to see a hybrid approach where possible.
“Where employees can work remotely, they are working both from home and remotely. I think in early 2021 we will see more of the working from home approach, with people returning to work under strict regulations and conditions, as well as split days.”
The majority of Bernstein’s clients have staff working according to the hybrid approach, with offices rotating depending on operational requirements.
Companies have been able to change how they work to accommodate remote working.
“We have seen companies pivot in numerous ways: from systems and technology, to culturally and operationally, we have seen a shift in managements’ ability to adapt and become more flexible with their teams,” he says.
Bernstein has noticed a required shift to an increase in the use of internet-based platforms for meetings in hard lockdown. The use has increased over time with people also saving time on travelling.
With some people regarding hot-desking, where employees share a desk when they drop in at the office, as a risk of infection, Bernstein says any movement creates a risk. “It is about how the co-working environments are managed. Most current reputable hot-desking or co-working spaces create social distancing and play an important role in the SME and entrepreneur set-ups.”
He believes meetings via Zoom and Teams are here to stay. “I think businesses that have the ability to run on these platforms have only started to understand the platforms and the usage.”
Is anyone thinking what will happen when people return to offices in January after they have been to other provinces on holiday or having fun in bars and restaurants, bringing Covid-19 back to the office? “It is ultimately up to individuals to be responsible when returning to work and for employers to try and take precautionary measures knowing their teams’ holiday plans,” Bernstein says.
It will take long to vaccinate everyone and we will be living with Covid-19 for some time still, but should businesses be planning already for a workplace with no Covid-19? Bernstein says the future is still unknown.
“Business are trying to return to understand the “new normal” while also trying to recover from the impact of the pandemic. Businesses are no longer trying to plan deep into the future on Covid measures and will often take each day and try to respond proactively with the information at hand.”
However, it is not all doom and gloom, Bernstein says.
“The new way of working has a lot of positives to embrace but it requires change in numerous aspects of a business, because the understanding of human behaviour has become a critical success factor in many businesses. The understanding of your team and their key driving behaviours will enhance the company’s overall business strategy.”
Linda Trim, Director at Giant Leap, a workplace design specialist, says if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that people have proven productive while working from home. While they are increasingly keen to return to the office, new research has indicated how offices should adapt.
“The question is how to modify the physical office as a place for culture, connection, community-building and innovation, while still allowing flexibility.
Based on giant Leap’s research, six strategies and considerations will shape the future workplace:
Trim says ultimately we are seeing an acceleration of a trend that has been identified in giant Leap’s workplace research over the last decade that people already working in a hybrid arrangement have reported the highest satisfaction with their work situation.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.