As we have been reporting over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic in our country, but also in the rest of the world, has come to change many of our routines. Both personally and professionally, we have had to adapt to a new context. A context that has allowed us to test many of the new ways of working that, for some years now, have been advanced by gurus and experts from all over the world.
Throughout the pandemic, we have focused on how companies have had to adapt, quickly, to a more digital environment and their employees, almost without time to assimilate it, to working remotely. There seems to be a fairly unanimous consensus that COVID has been a period of accelerating digitalization plans that organizations had already conceptualized, designed, or even implemented in a very incipient or more advanced manner.
The good news is that, despite the rush to catch the digitalization train, companies and their employees have obtained very satisfactory results which allow us to add a new variable to the resulting scenario and which, therefore, offers us the possibility of theorizing about the future of face-to-face work. Will companies prioritise work from home? Will there be a physical and online combination? Will we return to the status quo before the crisis? In any case, companies will have to offer new solutions and services so that employees who have been working remotely for months see face-to-face work as an attractive option once again.
In the nearer post-COVID future, going to work will not be enough. And it will not be because, to simply work, with a table, a chair, and a network-connected computer, we will have all our professional needs covered. So... what will we offer our employees to capture their interest in going back to work in person? Definitely experience! The experience of going to work! But how can we turn the tedious route to the office into an engaging experience?
Combine remote work with face-to-face work. A good option for employees to return to work in person may be that organizations allow, during the first months, the possibility of making their own schedule of attendance. In this way, the employee will gradually return to working in person, managing his own availability. During the first weeks he can come on a day of his choice, the following weeks two days, three... until the attendance workweek is completed.
Incorporating, in the corporate facilities, services that facilitate the day today. Gymnasium, laundry, car cleaning, pharmacy, physiotherapy... Some large companies already have these services incorporated into their facilities, allowing their employees to manage their day-to-day work more efficiently. In the current context, this may be a claim to attract interest to return to the office.
Flexible spaces. Working in different parts of the office, with rooms that can be adapted to the specific needs of each project, with the possibility of connecting with different people depending on where we choose to carry out our work... The company transcends the physical boundaries of the departments and destroys the silos to generate a more synergetic culture.
Amenities or comforts in the office. Thinking about employees' breakfast or lunch, a healthy mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, or giving the opportunity to choose the corporate toolkit that best suits my needs, can be a good call for employees to come to the office. If the company provides these amenities (or others) allowing employees to have more time for leisure, going to the office can definitely be a good alternative to staying at home.
Have more time. Given the possibility of working from home and avoiding commuting, could companies absorb, within the working day, the time their employees spend commuting to and from work? Could they encourage the use of sustainable means of transport by offering more free time?
Organization of social events. Facilitate the relationship between people in our company, in the corporate environment, through the organization of experiences that transcend their daily professional life. Afterworks, talks, workshops, entrepreneurship sessions... In a society that tends towards individualism, this type of action can motivate some employees to come to work in person.
Social Responsibility. This point, linked to the previous one, can be a good way to promote the feeling of belonging to the organization and, in addition, a very interesting solution for employees to feel that going to the office can provide an enriching and differentiating experience. Carrying out tasks that have an impact on society, both inside and outside the corporate premises is an element that fosters a good climate and is also a competitive advantage when it comes to differentiating our company from the rest.
These are some of the measures that we can adopt, in our organizations, to motivate the return of our employees to the corporate facilities but, beyond this, it can be a good way to attract talent capable of carrying out the necessary projects for our organization to achieve all the objectives it has set.
The present labor market must tend to blur the boundaries between personal and professional life, allowing both worlds to complement each other in the best possible way. In order to achieve this, many of the measures to be adopted by organizations must revolve around an element that is very dear to all of us: time.
For this reason, going to the workplace physically should not in itself be a waste of time. This means, in my opinion, that encouraging people to return to work in person must not in any way be synonymous with the stalest attendance. Productivity and efficiency in the processes must be the same; remotely or in person.
But perhaps, after all, you who are reading these lines are already determined to eliminate the face-to-face work in your organization. Tell us about it!