New Kind of Office: How a Pandemic Reinforced a More Solitary Way of Working
It’s quite apparent that we’re not in the clear just yet, and although many countries and regions are attempting to get back to normal, significant adjustments are being made in order to prevent further outbreaks and give the economy a much needed boost. When the pandemic began, it was hard for any of us to predict exactly where we were headed. Even now, there is a significant unpredictability regarding the trajectory that we’re on.
One thing for certain is that the Coronavirus outbreak has had an immense impact on the business world. Where remote working was previously seen as a job perk for the establishments that offered it, it’s now commonplace, and a priority for scores of job seekers. With work from home environments being implemented over night, thousands of businesses and their employees have experienced an alternative way to work and live, and are realizing that remote working is beneficial to all involved. It’s clear that businesses who wish to future-proof their operations, save money and attract talent are going to need to adapt to this new reality. Remote working is the future.
The new way of life
For businesses opting for a complete return to the office, careful planning is essential. As government restrictions are eased off, social distancing efforts are still needed to comply with regulations and to ensure that the spread of the virus is kept at a minimum. This will involve introducing a limit on the numbers of employees in rooms/spaces, adequate square footage per employee, improved ventilation, more frequent cleaning of premises, hygiene measures available for all employees, and possible rearrangement of office space.
This prospect will see businesses with open-plan arrangements potentially needing to separate larger offices into smaller spaces or at the very least, introducing cubicle style workstations for employees.
Higher productivity, fewer interruptions
So how will all of this affect productivity? During my time in lockdown, I read a book entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. One of the most interesting points of the book focused on the connection between introverts, productivity and quality of work in office environments. Multiple studies have found that, although introverts often get a bad rap because of their quietness or hesitation to contribute in group settings, they many a time produce higher quality work and demonstrate higher levels of productivity.
While the book goes into the various reasons for this, one of the major assumptions is that, since introverts are more likely to prefer quiet, solitary working environments, they are able to work more productively. This was especially evident in one study, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, entitled the Coding War Games. The purpose of the study was to define the characteristics of the best and worst programmers. 600 developers from 92 companies took part, and were asked to complete a set of tasks in a usual office environment during work hours.
The difference between the top performers and the worst was astounding, at a 10:1 ratio. After further investigation, they found that developers from the same companies on average performed at the same level. And when they looked at the office environment of these top performers, they discovered that their employers offered more privacy, personal space and freedom from interruption.
How does this tie in with remote working and the recent lockdowns? Well, individuals may have recently discovered that they became more productive during their time at home. This can be attributed to the increased flexibility, which allows employees to better fit their work into their hectic lives, and not be restricted by rigid work hours. But most definitely, it is also down to the elimination of distractions. Afterall, we’ve all been tempted by spontaneous coffee runs, or have been taken away from a task by a colleague innocently dropping by for a quick chat. Introducing remote working is simply introducing the way of working that introverts have always preferred and applied. It has enabled them to be more productive and, sometimes, more successful.
Future-proofing with modern solutions
Many employers still have hang-ups about allowing remote working. But we are seeing more and more evidence that this is the future, and more employees are coming to expect remote working as a must-have requirement, rather than a nice perk. What’s more, with the technology and solutions available, communicating and collaborating with remote workers has never been easier thanks to today’s UC platforms.
Modern businesses should be looking at offering flexible and remote working solutions to suit the needs of all employees. The pandemic has wreaked havoc amongst the business world, and while we cannot change this, we must use this as a learning experience to improve the way we do business and the way that employees work. Who knows? If enabling more flexibility and remote working improves productivity, it may in some way help to counteract some of the negative effects of lockdowns.
It has become overwhelmingly apparent that a worrying number of businesses are not prepared for disaster situations. By implementing a modern software communications solution like 3CX, you’re getting the best of both worlds. Efficient communications that boost business performance along with the potential for remote working, and a highly adaptable system that can easily help your business to continue as usual when the proverbial you know what hits the fan.
By Amy Elliott|https://www.3cx.com/blog/unified-communications/new-office-remote-working/