2020 didn’t just alter the world of work, it turned it on its head entirely. Most of us were forced to transition to long-term remote work, which presented a unique set of challenges and benefits for employers and employees alike.
These challenges and benefits often contradict themselves. For example, a LinkedIn poll on World Mental Health day in October 2020 asked LinkedIn users whether they felt remote working had a positive, negative, or neutral impact on their mental health. The results were almost completely even; with 49% of the 731 respondents saying positive and 40% saying negative.
However, the 40% of negative respondents are unlikely to want to return to the office full-time. HR software company, Personio, found that one in four UK employees would resign from their current job if they were forced to return to the office full-time.
How then, do businesses tackle such varied opinions about returning to the office?
Put simply, modern businesses should consult and listen to their staff, implementing flexible working solutions that work for both their business and their employees. The Financial Times published an article in February 2021 addressing the fact that most of the UK’s biggest businesses will be adopting a hybrid working policy going forward. This includes names such as HSBC, BT, Virgin Media, and Deutsche Bank.
Business mentor and consultant, Lesley Heath, notes that “the end of lockdown by no means signals the end of uncertainty. The post-pandemic era calls for a more compassionate leadership style.”
Mental Health Specialist, Kirsty Lilley, supports this view, claiming that “an environment where people feel their concerns are heard and responded to appropriately is important to reaching a mutually helpful compromise.”
Consequently, businesses are now looking for office space that promotes and accommodates flexible working, with hot-desking becoming increasingly popular.
How Netstar have adapted
Prior to the pandemic, everyone at Netstar worked from the office – it worked well for us and there seemed little reason to change. But, when the pandemic hit, we were of course all forced to work from home.
To ensure our team’s safety, we all worked from home from March 2020 until April 2021. And whilst this presented a certain set of challenges, we quickly saw the benefits of remote working. These included:
- Improved employee satisfaction (saving time, money and being able to schedule work around other commitments)
- Higher productivity due to a better work-life balance and fewer distractions
- Improved environmental impact as there is no need to commute
- Positive effect on mental health e.g. employees have more time to enjoy an afternoon walk and cook healthy meals
- Improved health implications, e.g. if employees have a cold they don’t need to come into the office and risk transmission between co-workers (not to mention the reduced chance of transmitting covid-19)
Because of these reasons, we knew that returning to the office full-time wouldn’t work for us in a post-covid world. Instead, we knew we needed to prioritise employee satisfaction and adapt to offer our team a working solution that works for them.
As such, this month we opened our brand-new offices in Farringdon, central London. Our new offices are bright, spacious, and designed to facilitate flexible working. Our team now have the opportunity to work from the office when it suits them, helping us transition to the ‘new normal.’ Going forward, we’re also really excited to be able to invite clients to our new offices.
Managing Director, Mit Patel states:
“It was crucial for us to find a space that accommodated our expanding team of IT professionals. We listened to their preferences and agreed that we needed a workspace that made flexible working possible long-term.
Employees can now book desks in our new, modern offices using an app. This allows them to come into the office as much as they please, whilst ensuring we can still implement social distancing and keep our team safe.”
You can find out more about Netstar’s new office here.
Are you prepared for the future of flexible work?
With life beginning to open up again, returning to the office is a hot topic for many businesses. Have you established a plan for your business going forward? Will your team be hot desking? Or returning to the office full-time? If they are working flexibly, will they be expected to come to the office on core days or will it be entirely up to them?
These questions need to be addressed as soon as possible so that employees aren’t left confused and unsure of what’s expected of them. To find out more about establishing a flexible working policy, read this insight article.
On the other hand, you should also consider the technical aspects of returning to the office (even if it won’t be on a full-time basis). If you fail to plan ahead, your team could experience a multitude of IT issues when they do return.
- Old devices left in the office – these will need to be updated or securely wiped and recycled
- Desk layout – furniture will need to be rearranged to accommodate social distancing, you will need to ensure you have enough power points and ethernet ports to accommodate this
- Chargers – if employees have taken chargers or power packs home with them, you may need to restock the office. It makes sense to have a supply of chargers available in the office in case employees forget their chargers.
- Headsets – do all employees have access to headsets for working in the office? After months of working from home, people will likely be accustomed to quieter working conditions so noise cancelling headsets might be beneficial.
- Meetings – because most meetings have taken place virtually over the last year, we haven’t had to consider physical meeting space. You will, therefore, need to ensure you have a process set up for booking meeting rooms through internal calendars and that all staff know how to do this.
- Phones – phones may need updating and testing to ensure they’re working correctly. Phone settings (e.g. diverts, forwarding, ring groups, menu systems) may also need to be updating in line with new staff, operations, or processes.
For a full list of things you need to prepare for before returning to the office, you can download our free guide below (it includes a handy checklist!)