When the pandemic is over, will we return to an office environment?
There is no doubt that the pandemic has permanently changed how and where we work. We are grateful for recent advances in technology that have given staff the freedom and flexibility necessary to continue being effective over the last 12 months. And, whether we like it or not, remote working and video conferencing are now fully embedded into our lives. (It’s really amazing to think most of us hadn’t heard of Zoom a year ago.)
Many staff have relished home working but, according to Nespresso Professional survey, more than a third of employees still want to work in an office setting post-pandemic.
I imagine many businesses will be thinking about future office-space needs taking into account their organisation’s culture and staff profile. COVID-19 provides managers with an opportunity to think about what is really important to ensure long-term viability. Office space is clearly a big expense and perhaps one that not every organisation requires. Are there savings to be had? But when considering balance sheet resilience, managers also need to consider their employees’ resilience too. Mental health must not be forgotten.
Trust, social cohesion and information sharing are all made harder when staff work remotely for long periods of time – so regular team building is important to give face-to-face boosts to teams.
In a previous Splash article, we considered how working from home is an erosion of social capital and how casual interactions between staff members had (pre-pandemic) been a great way to satisfy the social and collaborative needs essential to any company’s growth and continued success. But these casual interactions just don’t happen naturally when home working is the norm – so conscious team building becomes essential.
In addition, we have noticed that top-quality early career staff want to work for companies that are making a genuinely positive impact on the world and environment. CSR has always been significant but COVID-19 has truly emphasised the importance of supporting communities and giving back. With this in mind, we recommend regular team building that has a community focus as a way to reconnect staff – both now (during the vaccine roll-out) as well in the “new normal” to come.
A Splash Project provides the face-to-face boost that teams are craving. It motivates them to be engaged and inspired. It also provides organisations with the opportunity of supporting the vulnerable who have suffered the most during the coronavirus crisis. Right now, all our community projects take place outdoors and are designed with social distancing in mind, so are entirely COVID-safe.
Whether you are about to return to the office, will be working from home a while longer, or perhaps planning some sort of compromise… then a face-to-face boost for your team (via a Splash Project) would be a perfect way to restore trust, social cohesion and information sharing across your organisation.
(The author enjoys working from home, with a Labrador at her slippered feet! However, she recognises she’s privileged to have a home office, older children who don’t require home schooling, and decent wifi.)