The changing nature of work, powered by the Covid-19 pandemic which normalized working from home like no other event before, is leading every other company wondering if they should keep their office (and the costs associated with maintaining it) or ditch it in favor of a completely remote organization.
Cubicles, ashtrays, and alcohol cabinets are already a thing of the past in (most) present day offices. Despite the open office model being under heavy criticism, at least we have been moving in the right direction when it comes to fostering an inclusive, healthy and productive work environment.
Now, with the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the current pandemic, how should businesses prepare for a world that shifted so dramatically in such a short period of time?
Shifting from micromanaging time to a results-oriented approach – Fostering collaboration and innovation while furthering flexibility and individual accountability
If there was a trend around, before all this working from home craze, it was the shifting of the way managers…well, manage. The days of punching the clock are over and with the rise of project management software, productivity tracking tools, and others, came the way of evaluating people not on the hours they put in, but on their results. Albeit many companies today still employ counter-productive time tracking managing techniques, the most successful ones are giving their employees the freedom to manage time and responsibilities as they see fit, as long as their delivery keeps up with expectations.
Should employees continue to work remotely?
The best answer is: maybe! There is no straightforward answer to this question. Some organizations will choose to compete for talent stating that they are decentralized with no obligation for employees to go to the office (some even promising to hire from anywhere in the world or help you relocate to a different city/country). Other companies will continue to prefer the traditional way of having a centrally located office and have everyone come in every day. Some will prefer to have a mixed approach – keeping an office, but completely overhauling its design and function, with no regular mandatory presence by employees.
The hybrid office approach – the Lisbon Nearshore way
Although there is no one definitive definition for a hybrid remote work approach; the way we are implementing it is by having employees working from home most of the time, while coming to the office a few times per week (1-3 days). With this approach, the goal is for the company to remain competitive in acquiring top IT talent while increasing productivity and employee satisfaction. This approach has several advantages, namely:
- Allows for a de facto separation between deep work and collaborative group work
- Reduces time spent commuting by employees
- Increases flexibility and individual responsibility
- Puts forward a model based on trust and personal accountability
- Increases employee satisfaction
- Eliminates one of the biggest issues for fully remote workers: loneliness
Designing The Hybrid Office
With an organization following a hybrid approach to remote work, comes a new way of thinking and designing office spaces. With employees spending half (or more) of their time away from the office, it doesn’t make sense to still provide fixed seats. Office space also needs to be re-arranged to facilitate the collaborative meeting of teams. Hence, the office of the future will have less sitting space in favor of hot desks, more meeting rooms and more multi-functional rooms – places where workshops can take place, just as much as one or more teams assembled for an afternoon of brainstorming. The new office will be designed and thought-out as a place for people to meet each other and collaborate. No individual desks or rooms. Employees will organize their work such as when they need to perform deep, focused work, they will work remotely, and when they need to meet, collaborate and work side-by-side, they will work at the office.
Whilst this model may not be the best for everyone, or for every company, it is a model that is beneficial for tech companies, especially those in the nearshore outsourcing industry. It is a model that allows for greater work-life balance and individual accountability whilst promoting innovation and collaboration across teams and departments.