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 (photo: Mindspace)
25.03.2021, 13:36

Why Employees Need Better Options

Efrat Fenigson, Mindspace VP Marketing, explains why decisions about remote work require companies to look beyond possible financial savings.

 

The drumbeat of remote work which began at the start of the coronavirus pandemic has now turned into a symphony, and it’s clear that even with the end the pandemic in sight, remote work is here to stay.

 

The UK currently has the highest number of workers fulfilling their duties from home compared to its European counterparts. The Royal Bank of Scotland, Google, Facebook, American Express are just a few of the companies who have extended their WFH policies. 

 

However, many businesses are signaling that not only do they plan to bring employees back to the office, they are doubling down on their commitments to Central London. Goldman Sachs’ boss has rejected outright remote work as ‘a new normal’, labeling it an ‘aberration’. Tech companies including Netflix and TikTok, major law firms and gaming companies have secured new sites, paving the way to bring pre-pandemic life back to the streets, shops and hospitality venues in the heart of the city, reigniting its ecosystem once again.

 

In the rush to allow employees to work from their sofas and slash capital costs, too many companies are forgetting to ask a crucial question: Is this what employees actually want?

 

The evidence suggests that it’s complicated. Most workers are yearning to return to their offices, at least in a part-time sense, because it is so much more than a place of work. For many of us, it’s a central point of connection and community in our lives.

 

Covid-19 has revealed that employees have options. When the world fully reopens, people will want the choice of working from an office/home. Earlier this month Salesforce announced three working options for their employees to choose from moving forward: flex, fully remote and office-based.

 

And they’re right. After a year of lockdowns and Zoom calls, there’s no returning to the way things were. But that doesn’t mean that the needs employees had before the pandemic have gone away. 

 

Working fully remote is rife with disadvantages for all companies. For global companies with employees in multiple locations and time zones, the pitfalls are particularly vast. In short, without an office, your team is scattered, and teamwork itself is stretched thin.

 

There are other benefits too:

  1. The office creates company culture: It’s a headquarters for so much more than just, well, work. It’s also a headquarters for the unique style and flair that drives a company’s culture and its unique fingerprint, reflecting core values such as collaboration and teamwork. When the office vanishes, that culture unravels. 
  2. It’s a critical place for onboarding staff: New employees need to see, feel and even smell an office in order to integrate. Their bosses need to look them in the eyes. In the earliest stages of a worker’s journey, there is no replacement for in-the-flesh training and communication.
  3. Without in-person staff meetings to share and connect, or the excitement of milestones to celebrate, workdays seem almost flat-lined with no real highs. Zoom happy hours simply do not cut it.
  4. Spontaneous interaction is a crucial part of the work experience. The proverbial water cooler conversation is a key piece of connection and employee satisfaction, alongside asking for help and bouncing ideas around. 

 

Flexibility and adaptability will lead the way in our post-lockdown offices. The city centre, and the office buildings that fill it, is a place that anchors our lives. It’s clear that in the aftermath of Covid-19, there will be no one-size-fits all solution for office workers. But what we know for sure is that remote working is a stopgap, not a solution, and the office is, and will continue to be, so much more than a place for us to work. 

 

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