Future of Work: How to Enhance Employees' ‘Office Experience’ in a ‘Remote Everywhere’ Environment?Add bookmark
This is Part 2 of an on-going series on Future of Work. You can read Part 1 here.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon us, countries started to implement various measures to control the virus spread, e.g. lockdowns, shelter at home requirements, or essential services only. At first, every organization was scrambling to activate business continuity plans – protect employees, comply with Government requirements, and maintain service levels as best as they could. Even though all organizations test business continuity plans regularly there was trepidation on how plans would stand up in the face of a global pandemic.
The first few weeks were nerve-wracking because of the unknowns. However, thanks to the resilience of the human spirit and a can-do attitude, most organizations were back to 'normal' work cadence in a matter of weeks. There were even silver linings to the pandemic cloud, e.g. elimination of paper invoices, higher use of collaboration software, managing by metrics, push for automation, etc.
Management was concerned about productivity dipping with everybody working from home. Turns out, productivity worked out just fine, with employees focused on completing work and meeting the metrics – so much, in fact, that organizations are expecting the 'remote everywhere' trend to continue beyond the pandemic.
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Technology companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Amazon announced that employees may work from home forever – or at least for the foreseeable future. This was understandable given the nature of that industry. However, even companies in sectors such as banking, which have normally expected employees to be in the office, are now encouraging work from home.
"We've proven we can operate with no footprint. Can I see a future where part of every week, certainly part of every month, a lot of our employees will be at home? Absolutely." – Morgan Stanley CEO, James Gorman
"There will be a long-term adjustment to our location strategy. The notion of putting 7,000 people in the building may be a thing of the past." – Barclays CEO, Jes Staley
With reduced office space requirements, companies are now rethinking their commercial real estate footprint, which has the potential for cost savings. On the flip side, employees are working in cramped quarters at home with spouses and children vying for space – including demand for new housing with his/her Zoom rooms.
Organizations have an opportunity to enhance the 'office experience' for employees in this 'remote everywhere' environment. How? By investing in improving the physical environment at employees' homes, implementing technologies that keep employees connected, and offering training programs to onboard employees into this new environment. Some organizations have already made a start.
"We will be giving each Googler an allowance of $1,000 USD, to expense necessary equipment and office furniture." – Google CEO, Sundar Pichai
This is a good time for Shared Services to work with Finance, HR, IT, and Training organizations to channel the commercial real estate savings into initiatives to keep employees engaged through:
- Home office infrastructure – view the employee's home as an extension of the organization's office space. Subsidize employees through 'last mile' investments e.g. wall mount monitors, wireless equipment, printers, office supplies.
- Office perks – subsidized office cafeterias, free meals, gyms, child care facilities, and celebrations at the office have gone by the wayside. Consider replacing these with meal delivery, exercise equipment at home, child care subsidies, and virtual celebrations.
- Learning programs – the pandemic has been a nerve-wracking experience for employees and, unfortunately, we have not been able to share our concerns in person. In fact, companies have had to manage sensitive people events such as layoffs on Zoom. During these unprecedented times, we can keep employees meaningfully engaged through learning programs, e.g. developing new skills, studying for certifications, and having virtual cohorts who can 'office cooler talk' with each other.
Given the above, your employees will have a better experience working from home and be more engaged with the company! What do you think?
I look forward to your perspective and comments via this LinkedIn post.