Organisations should stop using ‘forced’ remote group working practices and instead use their working from home (WFH) experiences to improve the office environment, according to a workplace expert.
In an online Q&A session hosted by Leesman, the data and benchmarking firm’s CEO Tim Oldman said there needed to be an intelligent, strategic approach to solving some of the problems the coronavirus pandemic has caused for office and remote working practices.
“An example being an office in which there were three or four people; because of the fear of missing out from those working remotely, they each had to dial into a Zoom call individually so that their individual experiences were all federal.
“It’s that type of stupidity that’s going to drive employees a bit mad.”
Oldman’s colleague and Leesman’s chief insights and research officer Peggie Rothe did, however, note that those WFH were experiencing some problems with collaborative activities, although she said that working locations were not the only factor. “But that doesn’t mean all firms are struggling; the level of leadership impacts on that too.”
Oldman stressed that lessons from employees’ WFH experience could inform the future office experience.
In Leesman’s survey, when asked whether the home environment enables them to work productively, 82 per cent of surveyed employees had answered 'yes' – marking a 19-point increase on the 63 per cent who believe their office environment achieves the same.
Oldman highlighted the negative impact of noise levels on individuals' productivity as a major consideration.
“Please stop ignoring all the alarm calls around poor acoustic design of open-plan workplaces. Let’s get open plan sorted acoustically so that it works as well as home does. At the moment it is miserably far behind for those types of activities,” he said.
More than just social
On the future of the office, Rothe said that firms need to be careful not to forget about individual work, citing recent suggestions that office space would be used solely for collaborative or social tasks in future.
Citing Leesman’s data, Rothe said that over 90 per cent of those surveyed say that “individual, focused work that is desk-based is important. If you take that out from the office, you're creating a situation where employees would basically come into the office and be social all day long. “I don't think that's practical. The role of the office in the future is still to support both [individual and group-based work].”
Oldman concurred: “Let’s not assume everybody wants to be some sort of maverick explorer; there’s also a heap of people for whom the dependency and the rigidity of an assigned desk is beneficial."