2020 was an extraordinary year and while we grew accustomed to different working styles, the pandemic also created an opportunity for positive change. Companies large and small were exposed to new ways of working and are now starting to adapt to a new world of work.
While the pandemic has sparked a cultural shift on remote or decentralised working, with many employees and businesses showing appetite for more flexibility, many people are looking for the best of both worlds – a hybrid of remote and onsite work.
The workplace reimagined
In Australia, office workers are increasingly making the commute back to our CBDs, with most of our capital cities seeing a rise in occupancy in the last couple of months. Employers are seeking to understand what we’ve learnt and evaluate how to transition people towards the new world of work. While a team’s ability to manage remote work in the long term needs thoughtful planning and strategy, we know that flexibility and wellbeing will be key.
More than ever, a strong workplace culture will be about creating meaningful experiences for people.
We know that from talking with both new and existing members that flexibility is something businesses are now considering more than ever. Looking ahead, the workplace of the future will feature areas designed for activities such as problem solving, community building, ideating with others and some focused work, with the home seen as an extension of the workplace and as a place for concentrative tasks and individual learning.
What’s clear is that business leaders are starting to consider how their workplace supports their people, understanding the critical parts of the workplace and company culture that cannot be replicated over Zoom: bumping into a colleague in the hallway or the serendipitous encounter over a cup of coffee.
A hybrid future
Individuals and companies alike are recognising that remote work is complementary to, rather than a replacement for, in-person collaboration. Locally, there’s increasingly widespread consensus that a hybrid model will be popular among businesses, offering employees both the flexibility of remote work and the benefits of an experience based work environment.
While working from home seems fine in the short term, companies large and small are discovering that long term we need to be really aware that humans are social creatures.
We thrive when we’re part of a community.
We’re already finding that the role of the physical office and its place in the future of work will change. With this emerging trend, we’ll see the physical office becoming a place of creative interaction where we network, workshop and innovate: those aspects of work that people missed while working from home.
Employees who return to the office after being forced to work from home have shown substantially improved morale and performance. WeWork, in partnership with brightspot strategy, looked into the policies and conditions that impact an employee’s performance after returning to the workplace.
The study found that morale rose for 40% of people after returning to an office space for at least 1 day per week, and that increased to 54% for those who returned 4-5 days per week.
What’s even more compelling is that productivity (both individual and collaborative), personal well-being and sense of company culture were all boosted by a return to the workplace. Workspaces need to be designed for experience-based interaction and organisations will put more of a focus on creating a place for their people, a place where they don’t have to be but want to be.
A well-planned return can use this moment to reinvent the role of the office and create a better, more enriched experience for entrepreneurs and top talent.
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WeWork is a global leader in flexible space, providing businesses of all sizes with the space, community, and services they need to run and grow their business. With 859 locations, in 151 cities in 38 countries across the world, WeWork delivers flexible space solutions to its members worldwide.