Working from home versus working in an office is a major adjustment for both managers and employees. These two different working environments bring various opportunities, but need a strategic understanding to gain valuable productivity. We all know the implications Covid-19 had for companies and our working approach, however, to what extent will the office space demand be affected?
Future of office market
Among other factors, working from home plays a major role in the future of office spaces, however, some researchers (JLL Research & Strategy, 2021) contradict the equation that an increase in the home office would lead to a direct decrease in office space. They argue the office space will continue to evolve with a new approach - hybrid work - with a flexible basis, that aligns with both employee expectations and employer work requirements, in order to bring people back to the office. Indeed, according to a survey conducted by CBRE on office occupiers in 2021, employees expect a workplace transformation toward a balanced hybrid, for better well-being and a more productive environment. Despite the economic downturn, demand for office space remains strong, with companies reporting a stronger appetite for expansion incorporating flexible space and work approach.
Flexibility heating work-life balance
The major compelling advantage of working from home is the ability to work anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Therefore, employees avoid wasted time and gain independence when doing tasks – such as commuting, physical meetings or fixed-hours break – to tailor the day according to their needs. Moreover, as more companies adopt remote work, “office” hours shift to fit the employee’s schedule, which allows them to save time for personal projects. However, this flexibility also means that work relies on a non-set schedule, thus, does it really offer a better work-life balance? On one hand, telecommuting enables employees work-life flexibility, but on the other hand, employees face difficulties to differentiate work and home mode. When working from home, disconnection became even harder, with the constant use of connected tools: internet, email, and phone, meaning employees stay “online”, whether for personal of professional matters. According to Buffer (2021), “Up to a third of employees say they struggle to unplug and balance work and home life when working remotely”. Indeed, the desired symbiosis of work and life is not always easy to reach, especially to “shut down” and strike a balance on this new work frontier.
(Dis)Connected with the work environment?
This perceived lack of structure for certain employees constitutes a struggle for collaboration and communication. When working in the office, you create a company culture going along with networking opportunities, relying on in-person meetings. Based on Nextiva survey (2020), face-to-face communication is the most preferred communication method by employees, however, studies show effective team communication positively enhance workplace productivity, wherever the office is located. Thus, despite companies turned to cutting edge technology to recreate the office setting online, it is essential to understand this new working method for an optimal work environment.
Whether working remotely or in the office, productivity is diverse from an individual to another, each one adapting differently to its environment, hence, team management is key for an effective workforce. In this situation, it is up to the managers – in close cooperation with employees – to embrace this new professional setting transparently, to redefine the opportunities of remote learning and learn a new way to work. This is why having the right tools is critical to remote work success, all viewed through the prism of effective, insightful leadership. Indeed, companies need to ensure this correct switch, as remote work will no longer be a privilege, and but “the new normal” (Forbes, 2021).
Sarah Vimont - Sales and Marketing Intern