The future of workplaces in a 'New Work' culture.
The traditional way of working in a cubicle in an office setting with fixed working hours has been challenged for quite some time. Since the development of smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other electronics with the abilities to create, organize, and communicate from basically everywhere, the way of working has changed.
The “New Work” culture allows employees to be as productive from the place that is most convenient to them as they would be in the office. At the same time, a lot of companies are going through a structural and cultural change as well as a digital transformation phase. For a lot of jobs, advanced technologies and applications enable employees to work everywhere at any time without having to be at the corporate office. Therefore, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an increase in the demand and usage of co-working spaces and public locations as workspace. Hotel lobbies, airports, coffee shops, even some outdoor spaces, people are taking advantage of the flexibility to get work done. The Covid-19 pandemic just accelerated the adaptation to the “New Work” culture.
Besides the positive aspects of the newly won flexibility which can improve work-life-balance, the “New Work” culture also creates a new situation for HR departments to define policies that address the questions concerning work guidelines. When does work start and end?
In a world where mobile devices make you available all the time, a clear separation of work and private life can be challenging. Work-life-blending is the consequence of not being able to totally separate work from your private life. According to a study with 299 German participants conducted by Capterra, 53% of the employees that are “working from home” are taking calls before or after the regular work hours and 48% even work on the weekends. Yet, the work-life-balance is evaluated to be better through working from home, whereas the visibility of work and career development opportunities decreases. It seems like being constantly available and the extended work hours take a toll on the mental health of a significant number of employees. The study found out that 44% of employees experienced some form of burnout since they started to work from home. Even more reported that their employer did not address the issue with their employees.1
It is apparent that “New Work” has a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages. Companies are now analyzing the data gathered to create workplace opportunities that suit the needs of their employees. How this will look like differs from company to company though. The German software giant SAP for example is planning to give their employees complete freedom to decide where to work from, either from home, on the go, or in the office. On the other hand, industry leaders in the banking sector, like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are implementing strict return to office policies to bring back the workforce.
Many companies are working on implementing a hybrid model. An overwhelming majority of the workforce seems to be in favor of a hybrid work model where they can keep the flexibility of working from home/working from everywhere but are also not missing out on in-person collaboration and face-to-face interactions with their colleagues. Regardless of what type of work model companies are planning to implement in the future, the typical widely spread 9-5 office working world that we have known from the times before the pandemic is dead.
The office we knew where most people have their assigned cubicle and are buried in work throughout the day using the bathroom run or a coffee break as a short escape will not return post-Covid19. The future of offices will include open spaces, rooms for collaboration, conference rooms, focus on in-person interactions, product launches, and digital applications. Overall, the office will be a place and environment employees look forward to being in.
Digital tools and applications will provide an easy and helpful employee journey from the first to the last touchpoint with the company. It is expected that there will be an arms race in providing the best employee journey on corporation’s campuses and offices. Providing the most impressive and up-to-date environment for employees to feel inclusive, appreciated, and equipped with everything needed to be successful will be an important recruiting tool, for keeping employees in the company but also to attract new talent.
We can only encourage companies to think about how digital can positively impact their business through four building blocks:
Smart and transformable spaces, allowing intuitive use by anyone
Empowered collaboration to build and maintain work ethics and culture
Accessible and elevated learning and well-being to support individual growth
Digital systems and apps to streamline or accelerate processes
Our team at Digital Innovation has a proven track record of designing and implementing Digital Workplaces that make companies competitive for the future. Check out our Case Studies for more information on the work we've done.
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1 - Ines Bahr, „Work-Life-Blending: Wie die Grenzen zwischen Arbeitsplatz und Privatleben verschwimmen“, www.capterra.com.de/blog/1934/work-life-blending
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