Why the office serves the new purpose

25 février 2021
Why the office serves the new purpose

Will we be returning to the office after fully embracing remote working? Covid-19 has proven to be a catalyst for an increase in flexible working. We are evolving towards a truly hybrid work organisation. “Take full advantage of the power of technology as a driving force for a better workplace,” recommends Dirk Paelink, CEO of Workero. “And take into account underlying mechanisms like productivity, focus and connection” is the smart advice of Kathleen Vangronsvelt from the Antwerp Management School.

She formulated a number of tips and insights in a webinar on ‘retaining talent in a hybrid workplace’:

  1. View the working week through the eyes of a designer and architect.

    Time and space are two essential axes for work structure. Differentiate between synchronous and asynchronous activities. There is only one certitude: being physically present in the office together is no longer the standard. HR is approaching this new reality as an opportunity. Work methods are hybrid: design them based on the goals of tasks and meetings.

  2. The goal of an office has evolved into a collaborative workplace. Make this workplace intelligent and attractive, so that it becomes a place where talented professionals want to be. In a distributed working model, you listen to the needs of your professionals:
  • A safe and healthy workplace that looks after both mental and physical well-being.
  • Ecological awareness: an office with limited CO2 emissions and low water consumption that pursues the global climate goals.
  • Feeling connected with other people.
  • The flexibility to choose between working at the office, at home or a third location (train, coffee bar, co-working space, etc.).
  • A place to learn and develop new competencies.

Embrace

Dirk Paelink advises HR to embrace this new evolution. After all, the most important reason that organisations continue to build offices is because an office helps make work meaningful. Changing employee behaviour has proven to be the greatest disruptor for real estate.

Technology (‘PropTech’) is an innovative ally of HR. This includes such things as smart systems that streamline the movements of employees and visitors in the office and custom software that promotes and supports a healthy, safe and collaborative work environment on the individual employee level.

Return shock

Kathleen Vangronsvelt cautions against the ‘return shock’ that is sure to take place after the pandemic: “We’ve changed as human beings, but have work methods changed along with us?” People have missed the office: they want to feel connected again, make unexpected discoveries and expand their network. This is how an organisation reaffirms its DNA.

She argues in favour of dialogue between managers and employees: what are the mutual expectations? Place-independent working has dozens of advantages, but also obstacles. We’ve been in survival mode these past few months and the time has now come to learn and transform.