The Corona crisis has enormously boosted the topic of New Work once again. It has triggered a shift in thinking toward more flexibility, freedom, and personal responsibility in many companies. Across all industries, managers are increasingly focusing on agile working methods, flat hierarchies, and decentralized structures. This is also changing the demands on corporate culture, on the necessary competencies of managers and employees, and on the design of the workplace. This raises numerous questions about collaborating in the “new normal.” Is home office becoming an accepted place to work? Is the function of the office changing? What demands does hybrid collaboration make on space, culture, and technologies? What added value must the office provide to draw employees back to the office?
To answer these and further questions, we looked for reliable facts and figures from the perspective of a globally active company with a matrix organization, in order to formulate a future-oriented strategy. We can already anticipate the key findings from various renowned studies, including the “Future of Works” study by global real estate consultancy JLL , which surveyed 1,100 companies worldwide: the world of work remains hybrid and 75 percent of the companies surveyed plan to rethink their working environment.
Noteworthy: many of our findings also correspond with the 5 theses we formulated at the beginning of the Corona lockdown in 2020 on the future of work.
Our research shows: it’s time to leave the “office or home office” debate behind. The present shows that both forms of work already coexist very well side by side and, in the best case, complement each other perfectly. We are already amid the era of hybrid work. This finding is also confirmed by the results of the JLL study : 77 percent of respondents believe that working hybrid is crucial to attract talent and retain employees. By 2025, according to the study’s findings, 53 percent of the companies surveyed will enable hybrid working for all employees on a permanent basis.
Looking back again, we see that our long time in the home office has sensitized us for change. In the home office we learned to take on more responsibility for our work and our team. This also unleashed new creativity and flexibility in all of us, and the threshold to New Work was thus crossed almost unconsciously. For both employees (71%) and employers (83%), the shift to remote work during the pandemic was successful, according to a global study conducted by auditing and consulting company pwc in 2021. In the same study, respondents say they were more productive working in their home offices than before the pandemic (34% in 2021 vs. 28% in 2020). Against this background, too, a return to the old status quo is hardly conceivable, especially from the perspective of employees.
But the downsides should not be forgotten either. For many, working from home in isolation led to a loss of creativity, demotivation and loneliness. Nor were all employees able to experience “work-life integration” in an equally positive way. In particular, the lack of separation between work and private life often led to constant stress and mental problems. Employers, on the other hand, often feared that too much remote work would inhibit innovation and weaken the corporate culture. Especially for executives, it is important to be able to come into the office. This is shown by the 2022 analysis of the international design and architecture firm Gensler . The time spent working alone for oneself decreases with increasing levels of responsibility. Thus, only 30 percent at manager or executive level work in isolation for themselves. The majority come to the office to exchange ideas.
As a result, many companies we looked at in our study – led by technology groups such as Apple, Microsoft and Cadence – are now adopting a hybrid approach, with employees working from home on specific tasks and coming into the office for meetings, collaboration and group projects.
Employees of our major client, whom we interviewed for our research, see the importance of the office this way:
“It is extremely important to me to be able to get together with my team and my colleagues in person. In terms of mental health, it’s central to be flexible and be able to work both at home and in the office.”
“We need the office to be a collaborative place with good infrastructure and connectivity to maintain team spirit and culture.”
After the experiences of the last few years, employers and employees have come to realize more than ever that workspaces are living spaces. And this realization applies both to the workplace at home and to the workplace in the company.
So, if employees in the hybrid world have a choice of where they want to work, the office must offer real added value. Today, it is no longer enough to offer workplaces – rather, a positive work experience on all levels is necessary to attract employees. But what exactly can that look like? The answer to this question also coincides with a thesis we raised back in 2020: the classic workplace is becoming a meeting place that brings people, ideas and emotions together and offers space for social interaction, exchange and learning. In addition, this place should promote innovation, enable sporting activities, ensure well-being and support people as best as possible in their everyday working lives. This is also confirmed by the Gensler Report: Offices that offer added value and are, among other things, inviting, clearly planned and equipped with the latest technology offer the best conditions for a return. 83 percent of those surveyed said that under these conditions they would come to the office at least one extra day per month. 24 percent would even spend all of their working hours in the office.
From our extensive research, we draw the following conclusion: companies that want to remain fit for the future must accept hybrid working as a new form of work and adapt their working environment to the new requirements. Above all, they must consider the needs and expectations of all employees, both those who are physically present and those who work remotely. The goal is to create equally positive experiences on both sides. The models defined for hybrid working – e.g. 3 days office and 2 days home office or 2 days office and 3 days home office – vary widely, as they must always take into account the corporate culture as well as the organizational framework (working methods, structure, etc.).
The result of our research is a new form of office: the Community Hub. A place that perfectly integrates virtual space with physical space to create seamless hybrid collaboration. This is made possible by a workspace tailored to the needs of the teams with a variety of spaces for social interaction, exchange, teamwork and focus work. It offers an intelligent connection of all virtual and physical spaces with the help of smart communication technologies.
The Community Hub tightly binds the corporate network together and at the same time gives space for individual freedom. It connects people, promotes knowledge exchange and enables innovation. A workplace designed in this way provides ideal conditions for balanced work-life integration and is the navigation point for employees working from different locations. The Community Hub thus becomes a living showcase for the company’s identity, culture and values, and promotes productive interaction:
Sources: JLL Global Research ,2022/08, The Future of Work Survey2022, PwC US Remote Work Survey, 01/2021, Gensler U.S. Workplace 2022
Do you also see the Community Hub as the office of the future? Feel free to write us your personal thoughts on this topic to email@example.com
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The new normal is not a foregone conclusion
The world of work according to Corona: 5 questions you should be asking now