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The Future of the Workplace: Challenges and Solutions of Post COVID-19 Work Environments

The recent upheaval to workplaces with the move of many to work from home have resulted in some major benefits and concerns for  some companies. At A1 Office we have seen some unexpected challenges, some predictable challenges and plenty of innovative solutions of a transitioning workforce, and are working hard with clients to prepare their spaces for the future and the many forms this may take.

With our analysing and cultural shadowing of business processes and internal culture, we understand that knowledge is power when designing an intelligent space for your team; however, no one has a crystal ball so the need to stay agile and dynamic will be the key to your workplace success.

Extensive research across the workspace industry has revealed some common themes so we’ve summarised the results below, and included possible solutions. However, always keep in mind that every business is unique, so to address your specific challenges contact our team today. 

Cons:

– Concerns over company culture 

When people work remotely, how do we replace the loss of face to face communication and staff comradery? Many business leaders have expressed concern about losing this sense of company culture while their staff work from home, and are struggling to shift this sense of culture to the new digital working life. While staff who worked in close quarters before the move to working from home may be able to maintain communication and familiarity, some businesses have expressed concern that new staff may struggle to make connections with staff.

– Lonely Hearts Club – social isolation 

From across all industries and companies, a lot of staff are reporting they feel more isolated from work and colleagues now working from home. Leaders have expressed concern over staff who live by themselves in small city apartments, while others are more concerned about those with families at home. It’s important to be aware of what the circumstances are for your staff and try to accommodate for this. 

– Crucial Conversations

Often in the workplace some crucial conversations are to be had, either over personal or professional circumstances, and it is best these conversations happen face to face. While zoom and other online tools can be fantastic for communication; there is an overwhelming support for crucial conversations to happen face to face and any form of streamed conversation can leave greater room for misunderstandings (particularly if your internet happens to drop out!).

– Planning Innovation

Businesses that require creative innovation from their teams are calling for concern over the lack of instantaneous and inspired team collaboration on projects or ideas. Working from home often requires a scheduled meeting, and some companies are reporting a decline in their team’s innovation due to the remote workspaces. Afterall, you cannot schedule innovation on a zoom meeting.

Pros:

–  Technology in working
Often innovation arises out of a need and given the recent shift from office to home has spawned many innovative ways people are doing work. Some companies are discovering taking live videos of onsite projects and having multiple people streaming in is much more effective than multiple site visits. Others are working from the Cloud – and a vast majority and reporting an increase in productivity.

– Hiring from a greater pool of talent
Once geography is removed from consideration, the spectrum of talent you can hire from expands and you have a greater pool of skilled workers to hire. Which may lead to a domino effect for lifestyle changes. People no longer need to work near cities, now having the ability to live where they desire (beaches, countryside, closer to family etc) and only travelling into the office when they need/want to.

– Less commute
There have been many staff proclaiming the benefits of the time saved with no commute. Many workers are reporting an increase in family/life balance with more time to spend with your family. Saving time and hassle of commuting has been a great positive for many, claiming their time is spent more productively.

While any great change has drawbacks and benefits, and there’s been overwhelming positive reports of staff saving on commute time and enjoying a more balanced work and family life; we figure there’s an innovative solution to all great challenges and those listed above do have some solutions that are worth considering. 

Solutions:

Further research and trends has shown that while companies may be being challenged – some simple tips can help in this time of uncertainty:

– Meetings one for all 

The company Trello (purchased by Atlassian) has a policy that if one meeting participant is working remotely, all participants must have the meeting online. This means there may be 4 or more people in the same room each individually logged on to their laptops attending the meeting; this ensures everyone can participate equally wherever they are. It also ensures all participants are on a visual equal footing, making everyone feel included. 

– Make meaningful connections – not hallway small talk

Wherever your staff is, it’s important your team has meaningful connections, especially if they work remotely. Coordinate group meetings that have purely a social agenda – put it in the calendar and supply a list of (non-work) related questions to ask one another. Take a chance and pair different team members up to do a task together, although keep it social – the purpose is to foster meaningful connections. 

– Celebrate by sending

Staff member just achieved a major business goal or had a birthday? Celebrate them by sending a gift or a cake to their house – this will make their day and in a time of few interactions, will be quite the event. 

While these transitioning times have their own unique challenges, it pays well to remember that within a problem lies a solution, and it is possible to assist staff in feeling connected while working remotely. Consider your challenges although don’t let them daunt you, given the only consistency in life is change and know where there is a will, a way will become apparent. If you have a particular work space problem, contact our team today.






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