Reimagining the office and work life after COVID-19

McKinsey research found that 80 % of people questioned report that they enjoy working from home, 41 % say that they are more productive than before WFH and 28 % that they are as productive. Since every organisation and culture is different, employees react differently to working remotely. Therefore, we need different solutions for every organisation and even throughout different teams within the same company. The article suggests these 4 steps to reimagine work and workplaces: First, reconstruct how work is done by identifying most important processes and involve employees in the process. Second, decide which tasks have to be carried out in person and to what extent, then reclassify into segments from fully remote over hybrid to on site only. Third, redesign the physical and virtual workplace to support organisational priorities and adapt to the needs that were redefined in steps 1-2. Fourth, take a fresh approach to how much and where space is required, thereby reducing real estate cost and gaining access to a wider range of talents. 

Interesting thought: Are people only that productive at remote work because they have built up strong social bonds within the team before the pandemic? If so, how can redesigned work spaces support more social interaction?

This article was originally published on McKinsey on June 8, 2020. Read it in full here:

The pandemic has forced the adoption of new ways of working. Organizations must reimagine their work and the role of offices in creating safe, productive, and enjoyable jobs and lives for employees.

  • According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people questioned report that they enjoy working from home. Forty-one percent say that they are more productive than they had been before and 28 percent that they are as productive. Many employees liberated from long commutes and travel have found more productive ways to spend that time, enjoyed greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives, and decided that they prefer to work from home rather than the office. 
  • But is it possible that the satisfaction and productivity people experience working from homes is the product of the social capital built up through countless hours of water-cooler conversations, meetings, and social engagements before the onset of the crisis? 
  • During the lockdowns, organizations have necessarily adapted to go on collaborating and to ensure that the most important processes could be carried on remotely. Most have simply transplanted existing processes to remote work contexts, imitating what had been done before the pandemic. This has worked well for some organizations and processes, but not for others.
  • Reimagining and reconstructing processes and practices will serve as a foundation of an improved operating model that leverages the best of both in-person and remote work.
  • As organizations reconstruct how they work and identify what can be done remotely, they can make decisions about which roles must be carried out in person, and to what degree. Roles can be reclassified into employee segments by considering the value that remote working could deliver:
    • fully remote (net positive value-creating outcome)
    • hybrid remote (net neutral outcome)
    • hybrid remote by exception (net negative outcome but can be done remotely if needed)
    • on site (not eligible for remote work)
  • Organizations could create workspaces specifically designed to support the kinds of interactions that cannot happen remotely. If the primary purpose of an organization’s space is to accommodate specific moments of collaboration rather than individual work, for example, should 80 percent of the office be devoted to collaboration rooms?
  • Instead of adjusting the existing footprint incrementally, companies should take a fresh look at how much and where space is required and how it fosters desired outcomes for collaboration, productivity, culture, and the work experience.