The pre-pandemic office has not died, for the future, as many predicted. “These statements are exaggerated, most companies will keep their offices, although they will use them more flexibly,” says Eva Rimbau, professor of Economics and Business Studies at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). 4,000 workers, 69% of remote workers would feel comfortable returning to the office, although 80% of employees say they enjoy working remotely.
“We are entering the era of flexibility, there is no doubt, and companies will have to adapt if they want to have the best”, warns Manel Fernández Jaría, collaborating professor at the UOC’s Economics and Business Studies. In fact, 76% affirm that if they had to look for a job they would look for one with the option of working remotely. “Companies that do not adapt will find it difficult to attract talent because they do not have a flexible work-life balance policy or tailored to the worker. People will not want to work under what conditions”, adds Jaría.
The majority option: 2 or 3 days of teleworking
Between daily remote work and full-time presence in the office, there are hybrid models. “This is and will be the most frequent model in positions that allow teleworking”, considers Rimbau. Many post- studies affirm that workers want to continue teleworking, maintaining at least one day remote, and a high percentage prefer 3-4 days remote per week. The mixed model –according to Jaría– is the one with the best chance of staying, face-to-face meetings will be necessary, but the actual work will be done remotely.
Proposals such as the “3 plus 2” week, 3 days in the office and 2 teleworking, are some of the options, although, according to experts, it will depend on the employees themselves. A recent study, “A Sustainable Workplace”, states that only 12% of the employees consulted want to work remotely throughout the week and only 4% want to work in person each day at the office.
The majority option is hybridization and flexibility
Telecommuting 2 days (32%) or 3 days (36%) a week is the most popular, and in ideal conditions improves performance by 19% and quality of work by 10%, the same percentage that increases pride in membership, the study notes. “There are no formulas to defend going to the office one day or another, the answer will be the employees and the activities to be carried out; continuing to ask for presence in companies can cause problems, the important thing is to find the best way to organize work in the company”, warns Rimbau.
Traditional office evolves
For Jaría, the traditional office will coexist with other work organization models, coliving, workations, hybrid models, week 2-3, face-to-face, weekly, quarterly… «Early adopters companies are investigating whether productivity and team loyalty increases by remote, and it seems that it is so», affirms Jaría. In fact, according to the Morning Consult survey, 70% of workers say they are more productive working from home.
The office environment will not be over, but it will mutate. “There will be companies with their own headquarters, totally transformed and adapted to the new flexible presence. There will also be companies with shared headquarters. The staff meetings will focus more on networking, inspiration, conviviality, corporate training or specific meetings with clients”, says Jaría.
During COVID-19, teleworking has been an emergency solution and the pandemic context has not accompanied: an uncertain future, children at home and the economy affected. According to Gallup, during the worst months of the pandemic, teleworkers worked longer hours and more weekends than before and suffered feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety with a higher percentage than working in person.
“The effects of the pandemic are mixed with the effects of teleworking, remote work that was poorly planned and with few tools”, says Rimbau, adding that “both pre-pandemic and post-pandemic studies confirm that people want to continue teleworking , even if it involves more intensity, more pressure and hinders the social support of colleagues”.
Precisely, in order to avoid these effects, Professor Jaría offers 7 tips:
1. Having and knowing the work tools -giving a lot of support at this point- will help to gain confidence.
2. Prepare our mentality to connect with teleworking. “Learning to be your own boss is important to be able to close the day without feeling guilty”, explains Jaría.
3. Support in the design of the new work environment at home.
4. Apply the principles of ergonomics, to leverage performance and take care of health at work.
5. Learn time management and task management habits. “We have to go to the “hyperproductivity” that connects with doing the important things, it is not about accumulating hours but results”, says Jaría.
6. Emotional support that enhances socialization and connection with the values of the organization. Teleworking does not mean to putting up barriers to communication.
7. Know how to lead remotely. “There are officials who feel they have lost control. They will have to be helped to understand that everything has changed and that they have to learn about the new model by designing results-oriented jobs”, he explains. “And, above all, ask people how they feel, to find out how the company can help them”, concludes Jaría.