John Williams of Instant Offices discusses how time away from the workplace has changed how many teams think about contact and collaboration.
Working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has given most of us a great insight into how we can continue to do business remotely.
Now, as restrictions start to ease around the world, many companies are considering adopting a hybrid working model, rather than bringing all of their staff back into the office. This means that some team members will be based on the premises and others will be working from home or remotely.
This could be good news for people who miss the structure and familiarity of working in the office. And according to John Williams, head of marketing at Instant Offices, the disruption of recent months may cause a lot of people to rethink the role of the office.
“My bold prediction is that we will see a renaissance of the workplace as and when we move out of this difficult period,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.
“We are already seeing people missing, or perhaps recognising, what the office really represents. This will grow over the next few weeks as we start to realise what we are missing day-to-day, especially contact and collaboration.”
Although moving operations online or into the cloud has been one of the biggest challenges for businesses during Covid-19, there are other elements of work to think about.
“From our experience in Asia over the last three months, it is actually the non-tech issues that are harder to remedy in the short term: how to retain collaboration, to reassure staff, to conduct one-to-ones and to retain a degree of humanity,” Williams said.
“I think this has been overlooked as we all focus on the practical elements of separation. But human contact is the thing that will become most pressing.”
A remote company culture
Until teams can return to the office, Williams said that most companies are likely “going to struggle” with either creating or maintaining a healthy culture, and suggested finding ways to focus on communication.
“Choose tools that match your culture,” he said. “Because all communication and collaboration will be done using online tools, it is essential to choose apps and software that match the culture you are trying to create.
“If you want to create a fun, laid-back environment, choose tools that match this atmosphere.”
Public recognition for “a job well done” and team-building exercises are also important, he added. “Team building does wonders to foster communication, especially among remote workers who do not see each other on a daily basis.
“Where possible, create an ‘office social life’ by planning team-building activities to boost team morale.”
Whether teams are communicating for work purposes or more of a social reason, Williams highlighted the benefits of being open-minded about ways to keep in touch. “Keep the channels open, keep talking, use video and use social, but make sure you do not feel like you are on your own.
“It would be so easy to feel like we are isolated, but there are so many ways to feel connected. I think we will see everyone becoming very creative about how we interrelate.”
Williams said that although many of us were used to complaining about the “grind of the daily routine” with offices and commutes, a lot of people may now just be missing out on chatting and collaborating with colleagues.
“Most of all, we miss those moments where one comment can help solve an entire business problem, which is so hard to replicate in isolation,” he said.