How will COVID-19 shape the future of work?
In the last week alone, I have found myself part of more webinars and video conference calls than all of 2019. Like you, we have had to adapt quickly to implement and embrace new ways of working and adopt new software to face the changing climate.
I spent much of last week on the phone to landlords and operators of Flexible Workspace, Serviced Offices and Coworking, discussing their immediate reactions to the situation we find ourselves in, the challenges they are facing, as well as strategies to continue business as usual (as much as possible).
Something I have found myself thinking about repeatedly is, what does all of this mean for the future of the workplace? How will COVID-19 change the way we use and look at office space?
Step into my office…. Oh, wait – step into my dining room.
As employers across the UK have scrambled to close workplaces and mobilise employees to work remotely, many of us have found ourselves set up on our dining room tables with work laptops, notebooks and mobiles.
Whilst this presents an opportunity for many to spend less time commuting and find a better work/life balance, many of us (my hand goes up here) find that working from home makes it more difficult to maintain momentum and minimise distractions than if you were in the workplace with your team.
In my opinion, what this period will prove to many employers is that, whilst remote working is possible and the workforce is far more flexible geographically, homeworking is not always the answer, thus presenting an opportunity for Flexible Workspace and Coworking brands to capitalise on in the future.
Tech takes centre stage.
One client I spoke with last week noted that, whilst the number of members coming into work had decreased, the number of new members signing on for virtual office services had seen a significant spike.
There are many other ways in which technology is aiding businesses to continue operations, including cloud-based software and video technology. We recently introduced a video interviewing platform to the business which reduces time to hire and costs for clients, which is something we are offering out to clients given the current climate, as well as using for meetings. The message from us is clear: hiring does not have to stop.
We’re also utilising video conferencing tools such as Wurkr, to meet with multiple clients at the same time, host regular team meetings and conduct one-to-ones. Where we were previously restricted by the number of rooms or size of space, we now find ourselves with more choice than ever before. Challenges surrounding travel time and meeting clashes have disappeared too.
Events need not stop either. Last week alone, I took part in three separate webinars, all using Zoom, and tomorrow will be stretching it out in my living room to an early morning group Pilates session. I was also part of an industry wide conference call to discuss the safety of spaces and contingency plans, in which experts in their fields shared their thoughts and attendees were invited to ask questions. There was far more engagement with this than any conference I have ever attended!
Out with the old and in with the new.
These are only some of the immediate changes we have seen, and I am confident we have more to come. Whilst we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times, it’s been encouraging to see how quickly and effectively businesses have adapted under pressure and demonstrates just how much change is possible in the next two years after how much we have seen in the last two weeks.
Please leave your thoughts/opinions in the comments section – it would be great to get your take on this. And please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions on anything I have mentioned here.