In June 2021, an estimated 50% of the South African workforce was working from house full-time, with the Covid-19 pandemic essentially altering views on the place and how individuals work greatest.
Before the Omicron variant, it appeared most South African companies have been eager to return to the office and had instituted two to 3 days again within the office every week, mentioned Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, considered one of South Africa’s largest workplace design consultancies.
“As we watch how new varians develop, it’s difficult to know what will happen but the last two years have taught us is that our ways of working and relating to the office have probably changed for good.”
The workplace ecosystem
In 2022, workplaces will nonetheless exist, they’ll simply have a brand new function, Trim mentioned.
“Rather than being a place where employees automatically report every day, offices will become corporate centres specifically meant to spur innovation and connection while developing team spirit.”
She famous that workplaces will not be a single location, however an ecosystem of workplaces, houses and third locations akin to cafes and coworking areas to assist flexibility, performance and worker well-being.
Trim cited the instance of Starbucks within the US which plans to observe “hoteling,” with staff reserving office house solely when they should collaborate with others.
While its staff proceed to work remotely, the espresso big plans to revamp its headquarters: It will eradicate most personal desks, renovating the additional house to foster cooperation and make it really feel extra like a espresso store.
However, Trim cautioned that though distant work could also be right here to remain, it may very well be damaging for staff, and employers, in the long term.
“Team-building, networking and the cross-pollination of ideas that come with in-person interaction will also be impacted after the pandemic. It could also deal a blow to progress made in diversity and inclusion efforts.”
Trim mentioned she expects the methods behind company web site choice may also change 2022. Until just lately, many companies select the ‘fewer and bigger’ workspace mannequin as in a restricted assortment of enormous workplaces, she mentioned.
“Following the pandemic, some have begun to question this method, since geographic range may also help cut back the danger of disruption to business operations when crises happen. Businesses at the moment are prioritising decentralisation.
“As a result, our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different from the one we previously imagined. Alternatively, some leaders are choosing to open a string of offices.”
Trim cited the instance of Amazon which is investing $1.4 billion into workplaces exterior of Seattle, together with in cities like Dallas, Detroit, and Phoenix.
“A more distributed workforce will give businesses the opportunity to hire people from a wider range of backgrounds, locations and experiences,” she mentioned.
A hybrid, however not distant, workforce
A key lockdown improvement is the hybrid workforce, as staff cut up their time between their house and the office, slightly than solely working at one or the opposite. “South African employees seem to prefer a hybrid approach and business leaders are taking notice,” mentioned Trim.
A world survey of 80 firms by Colliers International, a number one actual property skilled providers and funding administration company, confirmed that 86% of managers and decision-makers mentioned they usually anticipate staff to work between one and 4 days at house from subsequent year.
The hybrid workforce might be outlined by versatile schedules and shared areas so the workplaces of 2022 may very well be smaller, mentioned Trim.
Even as soon as native restrictions ease and companies open their doorways once more, many individuals working in skilled providers will need to proceed working remotely at the very least a part of the time. As a end result, staff are prone to advancing their intercultural and world business abilities at a slower tempo in comparison with earlier than the pandemic, she mentioned.
“One of the points of mobility is to get the diversity of the global employee base really producing the great benefits that we know come from having diverse teams, in background, culture, and getting people working side by side from various parts of the organisation. While remote working has been very functional, these are elements that are missing,” she added.
“If we avoid further lockdowns, it may be that South African workers come to the office two to three times a week. The shift could make the companies rethink their real estate footprint as there will be less demand for office space,” Trim mentioned.
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