With availability of vaccines on the rise, and the number of people getting them, the big question on everyone’s mind seems to be, “What’s Next?” Is this the first step to our next version of normal? What does “normal” even mean at this point? Most importantly (at least to those of us selling office furniture…) what does this mean for the office as we knew it?
While we have learned that there are many roles that can be productive remotely, we have also found this remote work experiment to be rather lacking when it comes to employee engagement and company cultures. Extroverts and Introverts alike, humans are meant to be social and the lack of interaction over the past year+ has left all of us feeling exhausted and isolated.
Here is what we (think) we know. Most employees miss being in their work office environment. 56% of those surveyed in a recent report* shared by Kimball, said that they want to work in the office at least half of their workweek, and 52% indicated that “teamwork” is the primary reason that they want to return. The number one reason people miss their office is that they miss their co-workers. Socializing and camaraderie are lost without in-person interactions. One of our own employees, Erin, says, “I did not feel as productive at home. I was not as equipped as well as I am in the office, and I missed the interactions with other people. I would rather have people 6’ distanced around me at work than be alone at home.”
Of course, there are certain benefits to working remotely, especially from home. For starters, the commute is hard to beat. The coffee is always made the way you like it. Your pet can happily nap by your side. The office of the future is going to have to give people a good reason to ditch the bunny slippers and re-join society. Cleanliness and employee well-being will be of the upmost importance to help employees feel safe. Private spaces such as offices or workstations with higher barriers will likely be preferred for individual work. Flexible, shared spaces for collaboration and meetings will be equally important for teamwork, collaboration, and socializing. And if use of programs like Teams and Zoom tell us anything, improvements in technology will be key, regardless of where we are working.
At OstermanCron, we’ve been fortunate in that we’ve been back in our office for a while. We gave a lot of thought to the safety protocols and changes that would have to be in place to make it happen. Some of our readers may have seen our “Return to Work” video series on social media, where we outlined some of the steps we took to make this leap.
Rumor has it that many companies are now looking toward the fall (September/October) for a return to office work. Only time will tell, but we are here to help you prepare for that extraordinary day when everyone can be together again in your place of work. We know it’s not easy; we also know that it can be done, and can be done safely, because we’ve done it. While we may not be certain of what the future holds, we are confident that we are ready to figure it out together. It’s “go” time.
*Note: For the sake of this blog, we have referenced the “Kuchar Report” recently released by Kimball. You can review the full report at here if you are so inclined.