Our world is one that is constantly in a state of change. At times, it seems that a new normal has been reached and in that instant, it seems as though this normal will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. However, all these preconceptions come crashing to the ground as new technologies that are constantly being developed appear onto the main stage and take over, slowly replacing the old until once again, circumstances are perceived as normal. That is the state of the modern office space.
For the longest of times, when people envisioned the average Joe going to work, that meant going outside to tend to his farm. This shifted to going to his local factory during the Industrial Revolution and clunky wooden office spaces of the 1950s and 60s in which employees sat with mountains of papers on their desks waiting to be filed amongst rows of desks and massive filing cabinets. In the 1980s and 90s, computers became more accessible and those office spaces transitioned from open rooms with narrow alleyways to private cubicles with electrical outlets for PCs. During all this time, work had to be completed at the site. One could not simply work anywhere because the work itself was confined to a physical location, but not anymore.
The Numbers – What Do People Want and Why Do They Want It
The reality of portable computers and the Internet has for many made the entire concept of an office seem pointless. A July 2020 study by research and advisory firm Gartner found that of the company leaders interviewed, more than 80% said they would permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time with 47% of respondents stating their intention to allow employees to work remotely on a full-time basis.
This data correlates with the ever-increasing demand for remote employment options by employees. When interviewed in a fall 2020 survey by FlexJobs, 65% of respondents stated a desire to become full-time remote employees post-pandemic and a further 31% a hybrid work environment. The main reasons given for this by the respondents were as follows when asked in a 2020 report by Buffer about the biggest benefit of remote employment: 1) 32% stated the flexibility of their schedules as the primary advantage while 2) an additional 26% stated the ability to work from anywhere which ties in to schedule flexibility. 3) A further 21% stipulated that not having to commute was their biggest perceived benefit and 4) a final 11% reported that it was instead being able to spend extra time with family.
Morale and Productivity – Should They Be Integrated?
Many employers are understandably suspicious of the many distractions and potential excuses that could be made if employees only report in to work over a Google Doc rather than in person. A recent survey of HR representatives discovered that the average worker wastes 94 minutes every workday (not including lunch and toilet breaks). It’s therefore no surprise that there is reason for concern, after all, if they’re willing to waste that much time right under my nose, imagine what they can do behind their screens!
The Consequences – Gains and Losses
Hold on a second, we need to first ask ourselves why they waste time. When we discover that a mere 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged with their work, it begins to paint a clearer picture. Low staff morale not only results in greater rates of stress, anxiety, fatigue and burnout but also greater rates of employee turnover and decreased productivity. As any HR department can tell you, constantly seeking new quality staff is both very time consuming and expensive.
On the other hand, giving your staff more flexible schedules, making them feel appreciated and allowing them to unwind at certain times results in the opposite with reports stating that remote employees tend to be more creative, and at times more productive in their work than those working from a traditional office space. This is the reason why the amount of Toronto office subleasing space has quadrupled in 2020 and virtual offices have seen an unprecedented rise in popularity. Will people ever go back to the office space? This remains to be seen and at present, the answer seems to be leaning towards no.
Office Spaces – What They Have Left to Offer
The trick with office spaces is viewing them as concrete concepts that cannot be changed. The allure of office spaces will always exist and the culture surrounding them will take time to fade. In the meantime, office spaces still offer considerable benefits to ponder before you sell your entire office space.
- Brand Image/Reputation: Although the business environment has shifted, clients still prefer to see things with their own eyes. A glamorous and glistening office space with coloured walls, mosaics and plantlife will leave a lasting impression in consumers minds of who you are and what you stand for which cannot be achieved from behind a screen.
- Cooperation and Education:Staff training expenses have always been large but the distance separating employees from employers has made the integration process far more difficult. Working together in a common space not only helps in the spread and fostering of new, innovative ideas but also a better environment for employers to conduct workshops and other training programs.
A lack of interdepartmental communication has been one of the most prolific reasons given by both employers and employees in favour of office spaces in place of virtual offices.
What to Do If Your Team Doesn’t Want to Go Back?
As with many things, it is all a matter of what you are and aren’t willing to sacrifice. If you believe that it will be worth it and convenient to keep your team in remote employment then don’t be hesitant to do so. Virtual offices can help take care of organizational requirements such as mailing addresses and secretaries. On the other hand, if you believe an office space is irreplaceable because of the need for employee supervision, training and regular interdepartmental staff meetings and cooperation, you aren’t wrong to believe so either. In an ever shifting world, businesses must adapt to keep up with the times and how you choose to implement that change is up to you. For more information about office spaces and virtual offices, visit https://www.agileoffices.ca/ today to learn more!