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THE KEY BLOG

Challenges with Remote Working

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The Evolution of the Office Space

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace as we know it. Within a matter of weeks, the coronavirus crisis forced much of the global workforce to embrace remote working. This sudden and extreme shift has raised many questions about the sustainability of this new way of working, particularly in terms of workplace productivity. More fundamentally, it has led many to question the role and purpose of physical offices in the future.

In a July 2020 JLL report titled COVID-19 IMPACT: offices will find a new purpose that surveyed more than 3,000 office workers across the globe, one thing is clear: physical offices will remain critical in ensuring organizational success in the post-pandemic world. But, what will they look like?  

“While it is tempting to deal solely with the immediate implications of social distancing,

organizations have no choice but to prepare for the long-term impacts of the pandemic. To thrive

and flourish in the future, it is essential they put human performance at the core of their real estate strategy, and that they rethink this with – and for – their employees.” – COVID-19 IMPACT: offices will find a new purpose

The office has evolved.

Of those that worked from home, 58% said they “missed their office” and that percentage jumped up to 65% specifically in young professionals (under 35). What do they miss? 44% identified they missed the human interaction and socializing with their colleagues. Additionally, only 48% felt more productive at home vs. in the office.  

Let’s talk productivity.

“Productivity was heavily impacted by the suitability of employees’ homes.” 1 in 3 employees mentioned “the lack of a professional environment” in the survey, and it was the second most important reason for missing the office. What has contributed to productivity gains and losses?

Higher levels of productivity were found in employees with access to:

An inspiring home environment 

A peaceful atmosphere

Somewhere easy to focus

By contrast, productivity was considerably lower among employees who found it difficult to concentrate at home (See: kids in virtual school, no help with childcare, urban living with less access to space and amenities vital for successful home-working and so much more!)

“Most people either can’t, or don’t want to, work entirely remotely.”

Most employees (6 in 10) missed their office substantially during lockdown.  The top reason for missing the office, cited by 44% of employees, was the social connections. More specifically, face-to-face work (29%) and informal communications (25%).  Notably, employees who felt anchored into a strong workplace culture missed the office more than others. 

What does all this mean for office and culture architects?  “Without a physical anchor there is a real danger that corporate cultures and communities will erode.” 

Invest in the office but make it social. 💁

This is still very much a place to connect, brainstorm and innovate. The post pandemic set up should view insights from remote work as an opportunity to reinvent the workplace. The report offers, “Post pandemic, physical workplaces will be more important than ever, but will simply embrace a different role and purpose than they once had.” Future leaning offices will look to become social hubs that create value through community and collective experiences, rather than through aggregating individual contributions. 

The research reveals that in-office work and remote work actually complement each other with respect to human performance. Both offer their own intrinsic value, and when looked at holistically, the best approach is not to look at one replacing the other, but how to combine and leverage the benefits of both to capitalize on the strengths they bring to productivity, employee well-being, and collaboration. 

Looking to seize this opportunity to reinvent the role your office plays in fostering collaboration and productivity, and in creating a better human experience for your talent? 

We are creating the ultimate human experience- take a comprehensive 3D digital tour of Key Tower. And then, come see us in person when you’re ready to get back to the office!

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