Later this month the UK government is due to ease, and possibly eradicate, social distancing restrictions. At least, that is the case as we write (note our judicious wording here). As a result, it appears the majority of companies are considering a hybrid model of working going forward. For the uninitiated, that’s working part time remotely, and part time in the office. According to a BBC survey, 43 of the UK’s biggest 50 employers are currently planning a hybrid model, (they actually use the term ‘embracing’ the model), whilst 4 are still considering a hybrid future.
This will mean different things for different people. Apple for example are looking at employees going into the office 3 days a week from September. KPMG have taken a similar approach, whilst Googlehave announced that 20 percent of its workforce would be able to work from home permanently, heading into the office for ‘collaboration days’. Some firms are even talking about a ‘week in the office, week at home’. Whatever happens, many of us will be again considering a change in our norm. Whilst some reticence is to be expected, this change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’ve found a number of reasons to be excited, and here are just some of them…
Let’s face it, water cooler moments are not the same when you’re stood by your fridge talking to the dog. As human beings we need social interaction, not to mention the energy, cooperation and collaboration that comes from being with colleagues. This has an impact not just on our work, but on our mental health and wellbeing too. A number of employees have reported being fatigued as a result of working from home. Heading back to the office will enable us to see real people, and harness the aforementioned benefits.
Take this a step further, and there’s also the opportunity to take part in more activities around our work. Post work cocktails, heading to the gym, or even ‘life admin’ such as dropping off dry cleaning can all be achieved more readily when you’re commuting to an office. Of course, this sometimes presents us with the issue of having to wear many hats in one day. La Pochette provides the solution however, whether it’s simply remembering your sweat bag, or refillable bottleswith your moisturiser in, there’s an answer, so no excuses!
This flexible approach to work is in part a product of the fact there simply isn’t always space to social distance in the office environment, making less people a necessity. Many employers are coming around to the idea we can work effectively and efficiently from home AND the office however. We have the ability, technology, and can be trusted not to spend time enjoying happy hour at the pub when we should be writing a report for Sheila in Accounts. This level of trust and autonomy will hopefully allow us to achieve an improved work-life balance. What’s more, we will more readily be able to psychologically separate work and home. As friend of La Pochette David said this week, “I’ve been doing two days per week in the office, the other three at home, and it’s given me the best of both worlds”.
Whilst companies will be required to look at both more and dedicated space for staff, as well as health care and facilities, many are going a step further to upgrade the office and home experience for employees. We’ve heard of businesses who have used the past year to decorate, upgrade tools and technology, improve ergonomics, reconsider commute schemes to help with travel, and re-think personal space and wellbeing.
Microsoft for example is prototyping hybrid meeting areas which simulate face-to-face interactions. Google have introduced outdoor workspaces, as well as workstations designed to suit each individual employee’s personality type. Recognising this, Terry Hosten of BaseKX, University College London’s startup hub for entrepreneurs states, “The last 15 months have changed the perception of how we work going forward”.
Even if your company hasn’t gone quite this far, chances are they will be looking around at what other businesses are doing, and hopefully embrace and encourage the fresh thinking and improvements that are emerging.
These are challenging times, yet there is every reason to be optimistic and welcome the change.