In this week’s episode of the Crayon Lighthouse Fireside Chat series, Shagufta Anurag, or Shagu, as we know her, spoke to us about rediscovering our lives at the workplace. Shagu is the founder and CEO of Saltmine, a B2B SaaS company in the workspace design-build market.
Before COVID-19, the physical office space was always taken for granted. But things have changed with the pandemic. When asked about their concerns about returning to the office, employees at Crayon expressed that health and safety were their top worries. On the other hand, they also cited that they miss the collaborative and social aspects of being physically together. So, how do we balance these two ends, and how do we navigate the future of office life? Shagu shares her observations and learnings from her time in the industry.
5 key learnings and changes to anticipate
- The relationship between people and office spaces have changed – and we need to reinvent office life. This means different things to different organizations, and is heavily dependent on each company’s culture and DNA.
- Work flexibility and remote working is here to stay. Employees have now settled into remote working arrangements, and have found ways to remain productive while working from home. With this, the future of work looks more flexible than ever.
- Office density will decrease in the long run. Offices will become more spacious as people are wary of sharing a desk and sitting in close proximity with others.
- Employees will now demand more collaborative, social and interactive spaces. If they went into the office only to sit at a desk to work, they could very well do it from home. Hence, the office space will now be used primarily for collaboration and social interactions. For activities that do not translate well over video conferencing.
- As people return to the office, they will resume their old routines. But it’s a process that will take time as people need to ease back into it.
The future of work
There are 3 schools of thoughts when it comes to the relationship between workers and the physical office space:
- Ex-Google CEO predicts companies will need more office space after the pandemic, not less
- Twitter announces that their remote, work-from-home (WFH) policy will continue even after the pandemic subsides
- Microsoft warns that permanent WFH is damaging for workers’ well-being
Nearly half of the Crayon team agrees with Twitter’s views, what do you think?
Will we see the return of the cubicle?
Organizational culture will have a huge impact on this. It depends on the company’s DNA. A company that is open, transparent and vibrant will probably never return to a cubicle office model, even after the pandemic. Though for others, cubicles may just make a comeback!
Will more companies adopt permanent work-from-home policies?
It’s obvious that employees will become disengaged if they don’t have a physical space to congregate. Hence, it’s unlikely that companies will get rid of their office spaces and move to a permanent WFH model. We can look to Google for future trends in office spaces and work arrangements. Years ago, Google fundamentally changed how the world looked at offices. They made it fun and social – and transformed our understanding of the impact of physical space on human behavior.
They use their office as a differentiator to attract talent and will continue to do so in the post-Covid-19 world. We can expect them to take the office to a new level and bring the comfort of working-from-home into the office. The new normal for workplaces remains to be seen.
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