The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the biggest home working experiment ever seen in the UK. As a sense of normality begins to creep back, it’s time to consider what lessons we can learn and what changes might result from such a key moment in history.
The way forward might mean a combination of working from home and from offices for some businesses – known as Hybrid Working. Read on to find out about the integral part office space in London is likely to play in the new hybrid working model.
A Positive Future for Offices in London
Some studies suggest that a significant proportion of workers do not want to go back to the pre-pandemic ways of working.
That does not mean that offices will become redundant- quite the contrary in fact. Offices will be at the heart of any hybrid working model. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for hybrid working because all businesses are different.
The parameters and dependencies are not just about where we work but how and when we work too. All this is likely to change and develop over time as we all learn what works best and why.
Even though working from home can have some big advantages, there are some areas in which the office will always be king, such as:
- Encouraging innovation by bouncing ideas within groups
- Facilitating training and development through everyday working practices
- Creating an environment that strengthens collaboration
- Playing host to physical events with better quality employee interaction
- Building and nurturing a company’s culture
How to Build on New Hybrid Working Concepts
So how does hybrid working keep the key contributions office space can make and at the same time build on some of the benefits of working remotely?
Some Fintech companies are already building new ways of working. That means some staff are working from home but coming to their London offices on a set number of days per month.
Other workers take up their desks in their office twice a week with planning time and social integration during that time. On other days they can choose whether to work from home or at the office.
One of these companies is even letting their employees work from anywhere for three months of the year. All this creates new and exciting opportunities for businesses and their employees.
How to Create Hybrid Working in London Offices
Clearly, not all businesses can be as flexible as others. Hybrid working models are likely to be as diverse as the companies which choose to implement them.
Conversations between managers and employees will be at the core. They need to cover the degrees of possible flexibility.
Hybrid working means managers will have to add to their skill set. That’s so that they can connect the culture and structure of offices to new types of remote working. It’s a juggling act and it is not without potential pitfalls.
As with all new processes, it starts with great communication. That means listening to all the stakeholders from clients to employees. Most creative solutions do not come from a book but from the people who are going to be part of them.
Managers need to balance the wishes and ideas of staff with what’s right for any businesses which have offices in London. Those in charge need to manage expectations, offer support and consider issues related to a positive work-life balance.
What Employees Are Saying
Microsoft has been asking the opinion of thousands of workers about new ways of working through a YouGov survey.
There were some encouraging findings. For example, around two-thirds of employees agreed their organisation had given them all they needed to work from home.
The survey also found new ways of working were giving employees the chance to live their lives in a more positive way. For example, more than half chose to use their meal break to focus on their personal lives. Many reported increased levels of happiness.
On the other hand, some employees said they were being stretched further than before. Almost a third said their hours had increased when working from home. Worryingly, more than half felt they had to be available at all times.
Employees also said they missed seeing their colleagues in person. They saw going into the office as a key opportunity for social interaction. It was also a key driver for deciding to go back into their previous, physical place of work once allowed.
Some Key Recommendations
The Microsoft survey led to some guidance for UK organisations, including those with offices in London. These are some of the recommendations:
- Supporting hybrid workers through great people management
- Designing work processes appropriate for all locations
- Encouraging innovation, performance, knowledge-sharing and team relationships
- Ensuring there’s fairness of opportunity, especially around career development
- Putting health and wellbeing at the heart of everything
- Offering a variety of more flexible working options
- Supporting flexibility by recruiting flexibly from the start
How Offices Help Companies Develop
Offices are places that bring people together. They allow them to deliver products and services to their respective markets. Strategies for innovation and shared values can be key to giving any business a competitive edge.
This is where office space comes into its own. It’s far more valuable than any virtual platform because it connects people and ideas which go on to define a company and shape its future.
A Bright Future for London Offices
Many companies are taking a digital-first approach at the moment, but the vast majority have no plans for a 100 percent remote workforce. Organisations are in the process of deciding how and if they can adopt a hybrid working model.
There is no question that offices in London will still be the place of work for those unable to work from home. At the same time, high-quality social interaction inspires creativity and collaboration.
A physical workplace away from home can be a key platform for everyone. When used well and cleverly, it will maximise the value of any business.
If your business is adopting a hybrid working model and you need to find office space to adapt to this, get in touch with our commercial lettings team today on the contact details below. At RIB, we have a wide range of offices across London and are more than happy to help you find a workspace which suits your business needs. We can also answer any questions you may have about hybrid working.