Teleworkers ask to return to an office adapted to the new times and to help them better reconcile
After a year of imperfect teleworking, professionals who work in office spaces ask their companies to maintain this formula, but also to return to different workspaces, adapted to new times and which allow them to carry out a series of tasks that , performed from home, do not facilitate productivity or affect work-life balance. A paradigm shift: You only get worse when you work from home.
This is just one of the conclusions proposed by Barmetro Grup Efeb 2021: Telework and the need to rethink Offices, which was presented by this company specializing in the design, adaptation and maintenance of workspaces. The aim of this research is not only to find out what has been the impact of teleworking in the office space, but to understand what is the role, design and specificities that offices will now have to offer.
The research for Grup Efeb was carried out by the consultancy firm Tctica Investigacin Estratgica. Out of a sample of 896 professionals, aged 20 to 65, all office workers in Spanish municipalities with more than 200,000 inhabitants.1
1. Telecommuting is no longer a tab
At least 58% of companies were immersed in the obligation to grant something that was for them a tab, convinced that the worker is capable of working independently. Before the arrival of Covid-19, only 33.5% of office workers had experience of telecommuting, rising to 72.8% in January 2021. Likewise, the average number of telecommuting days in our country has increased from 0.7 per week before March 2020 to 2.8 as of January 2021.
Before Covid-19, it was the micro-enterprise that had the greatest culture of teleworking and in a more flexible format, compared to the large enterprise, with less penetration of this modality and still on more rigid protocols. We will now see how the experience of 2020 will tend to standardize habits between micro and large companies.
The final experience, in a wide range of companies, resulted in a change in starting positions: 77% of companies find this experience satisfactory and 73% will consolidate the telework modality: at least they will maintain a minimum telework for about 2 days week.
2. Telecommuting, a NOT entirely satisfactory experience
For 76% of office workers who teleworked, teleworking was NOT a totally satisfying experience, resulting in an ambivalent situation. Working at home offers positive elements: lower risk of contagion, better organization of time and above all saving time / money when traveling. But teleworking also leads to other inefficiencies in some professional tasks that can only be accomplished in offices, such as teamwork, technical limitations, or necessary isolation.
We thus arrive at another conclusive data from Barmetro Grup Efeb 2021: teleworking and the need to rethink office spaces. Only 11.7% of those surveyed would prefer to work remotely, full-time, giving up the office entirely and for the remaining 88.3%, the office continues to offer them benefits.
While only 9% of workers want to be in the office 5 days a week, 91% expect future mixed work consolidation, combining between 2/3 working days from home and / or the office.
3. Symbiosis between the perception of employees and that of employers
The study presented by Grup Efeb also indicates a strong correspondence, and a symbiosis, between the feeling of satisfaction between employee and employer in relation to the telework experience so far. On both sides, we observe only between 6 and 8% of dissatisfaction respectively. Another relevant data is that 89% of workers believe their company will maintain certain telecommuting quotas. This teleworking was not just a temporary measure.
4. Changing priorities in the office workspace
The research presented by Grup Efeb also highlights that among professionals with more experience in teleworking, there is a greater demand for the transformation of office spaces. 63% indicate that it is necessary to make changes beyond a safe, complementary / alternative space and “random” uses – without further delay – but they already designate the office as a “specialized” space to carry out certain tasks than at home – telecommuting – they don’t work as well.
Until now, the priorities demanded of an office space, and more so during the Covid 19 era, have been around environmental well-being and health. From now on, the priorities and demands of office transformation are more rational and aim to solve in an integrated way the functionality of the space according to the type of activity and the tools used.
In this way, a cluster emerges which integrates various priorities: connectivity, peripherals (hard / soft); acoustic soundproofing, distance between people, performance and productivity and versatility of spaces. Elements that form a hybrid concept: the ergonomics of space, the key to rethinking the space and function of an office.
5. Rethinking the workspace / office With what function?
The Grup Efeb 2021 Barometer: Teleworking and the need to rethink the office space concludes that in this semi-face-to-face / semi-remote mix, and this new logic on the tasks that are better to perform in the office space and which tasks outside of this, the physical office follows by playing a key role. In this way:
One-on-one and focused work (individual thinking) is emerging as the most appropriate type of task to perform outside of the office. The office should offer more shared workspace. Concentrate less time on individual tasks and preferably facilitate networking, teamwork and co-creation. And offer a new “specialized” space to perform certain tasks which at home, teleworking, are not performed satisfactorily. Ah, silence and resources for connectivity / remote work are of particular importance. (“Formal quality” video calls: this remote interaction, depending on with whom, its formality, its image commitment and its corporate reputation, it will be preferable to make them in the environment, the resources offered by an office (under the “umbrella” of a desk).
6. Businesses should promote the convenience of returning to the office
This new work organization must be led by the company. It should be responsible for leading, setting benchmarks and strengthening a mixed working culture that is mutually beneficial. A new work organization that combines: remote work at home and work remotely or face to face at the office.
However, offices will not only have to offer something distinctive, attractive and user-friendly for the employee to want to return to the office. The company will have to redefine a practical, functional space adapted to the performance of certain functions that are not performed effectively at home.
As underlined by the work carried out by Tctica Investigacin Estratgica for Grup Efeb, these changes must be accelerated (increased sanitary standardization and a generalized return to offices are expected in September). And so far, only 26% of offices have made changes or renovations to their space, which did not go beyond being reactive and interim measures related to the current health situation. They are still far from constituting real structural changes which respond to a well-thought-out conception based on the reorganization of the new paradigm of in / out work.