Is the current office model outdated?
Remember like, a year ago when lots of big businesses were saying they weren’t going to require their employees to go back to the office? And then, inevitability they did. A lot of big companies and whole industries (like, banking and wall street,) have gone back to the office. What did we learn from corporate’s ‘year-at-home’? Are industries and office culture really going to adapt to modern WFH life? Or is the 9-5, 5-day-workweek here to stay?
Advantages of WFH
At the start of the pandemic, many companies feared that working remotely would cut done on productivity. After a year, that has proven not to be the case. Many employees feel more productive working remotely. 82% of senior executives surveyed reported seeing productivity levels either stay the same or increase because of working from home. WFH has cut down on something surprising: innovation.
82% of senior executives surveyed reported seeing productivity levels either stay the same or increase because of working from home.
WFH lowers office costs and shortens commutes. Employees like the freedom. 69% of respondents to Microsoft’s WFH survey said that the main reasons liked working remotely were: dressing more casually, being able to personalize their workspace, and having their pet by their side. Working from home also cuts down on casual workplace interruptions. That same Microsoft study found that before WFH, workers felt like 52% of their workday was wasted due to unnecessary disturbances. That number has fallen to 41% since the beginning of the pandemic.
Michael Parke, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who worked on the Microsoft study, said: “It seems that employees are able to hunker down and get less distracted while working remotely… However, the cost seems to be a loss of sense of purpose, which at work, is largely driven through strong and cohesive relationships and seeing how your tasks have impact on others.”
“However, the cost seems to be a loss of sense of purpose, which at work, is largely driven through strong and cohesive relationships and seeing how your tasks have impact on others.”Michael Parke
Disadvantages of WFH
Working remotely means it’s hard to connect with coworkers, both for formal communication as well as for personal connections. This has had a direct impact on companies’ ability to innovate. The Microsoft study reported that the percentage of leaders who felt that their companies were innovative dropped 16% in 2020. Without sharing a physical space brainstorming and collaboration is more difficult. It’s harder to come up with new ideas as well as enact them.
The overnight and “temporary” switch to working remotely has created many challenges for employers and employees alike. WFH on this scale is such a new thing that solutions to challenges and long-term repercussions are still very much unknown. Being aware of challenges as they come up is the only way for companies to work on effective solutions.
What About A Hybrid Office?
As companies transition back to the office, many bigger companies aren’t seeing it as all or nothing: office vs. WFH. Many companies are trying a hybrid workplace. For example, the London based bank, StandardCharter is pushing and incentivizing a hybrid office model across its global offices. They plan to create smaller office hubs and give employees the choice to work at the office or at home. They are suggesting that employees meet at the office regularly to check in and collaborate. Building We-Work style office spaces will help solve technology deficiencies in their branches in developing countries and will lower costs across the board.
Facebook is also moving to a more hybrid work model. However, they are allowing it more than promoting it. Their current policy is that any full-time employee can request to WFH. Some jobs such as data center maintenance and hardware development will not be allowed to work remotely. They are also planning to adjust salary based on where you decide to work. It is a lot cheaper for the employee to work remotely from a city in the Midwest. (For example, the cost of living in San Francisco, CA is 199.8% higher than it is here in Omaha, NE.) Facebook is going to open all their US offices up to 50% capacity in the fall. Meaning, that almost 30,000 employees will continue to work remotely.
How has the last year of WFH impacted entrepreneurs?
Many people took the opportunity of disrupted work to start new businesses. Many people liked the freedom and flexibility that working from home offered and decided to leave their corporate jobs and pursue entrepreneurship.
“Americans submitted an average of 111,000 applications for new businesses per week between the end of June 2020 and the beginning of September 2020, the most applications submitted per week since 2007.”U.S. Census Bureau
How do many people feel about going back to the office?
A lot of banks and tech companies went back to the office last week. How do their employees feel about it after working from home for a year and a half? Of the over 1,200 employees and 133 executives surveyed at the end of last year, 55% said they would prefer to still work remotely at least 3 days a week. Along with the loss of flexibility and other perks WFH offers, going back to working surrounded by people can be daunting. A scary as it may be, it will show your employer and teammates your commitment to your job and flexibility in dealing with transitions. Which will be really appreciated! If you are feeling anxious about the return, talk to your boss. Your company may be more open to a hybrid office than you think.
There is never going to be a complete consensus to the question: is WFH better? Every business, every office, and every employee will have a different opinion and method that works best for them. It doesn’t really matter what your company decides to do, as long as it’s the right fit for you.
Do you think a hybrid office is effective?
Need a Refocus Break?
In this digital world, a lot of us probably spend more time at our desks than we’d like to. Long amounts of time staring at a computer can take a toll! Here’s a few things you can do to give you a physical and mental break.
Take a Stretch Break
Admit it, you’re sitting hunched over your keyboard or phone right now. 😜 Its ok; we all do it. Here’s 3 quick stretches you can do at your desk!
#1 Give Your Wrists Some Love
Being on the computer all day overuses some muscles and underuses others. New York City based physical therapist, Dr. Abby Bales, suggests stretching your wrist flexors and extenders. The easiest way to do this is to hold your arm straight out and bend your wrist up and down at 90 degree angles. Bales says this “prevents the wrist from getting locked in a smaller range.”
Your upper back and shoulders can lock from being at a desk too long. Dr. Bales suggests stretching by clasping your hands behind your head and squeezing your shoulder blades. This opens up your chest and shoulders, helping stop the hunch.
#3 Big Shrugs
While on the computer most of us have the habit of scrunching up our shoulders and leaning toward the screen. Doing some 3-5 second shoulders shrugs helps! “By actively shrugging and then letting go, the brain is made aware of the unhealthy height of the shoulders,” Dr. Bales said, and it resets accordingly.
Anytime you disrupt your routine (either by doing little things like pausing to stretch or like, I don’t know, a global pandemic) you have opportunity to reset. What can you do to reset your brain?
Pausing and taking a couple deep breathes can help clear your mind, relax, and refocus. It’s as simple as just looking up from your computer or phone and focusing on your breathing for a bit.
Another thing you can do to mental reset is take a moment to go over your tasks and reprioritize. Ask yourself, “What is my overall goal for the day and what do I need to do next to reach that goal?” It’s critical to understand what tasks are most important. Inevitably things change throughout the day; deadlines move and priorities shift. Reorganizing your task list can help you to stay focused on what really matters and make it easier to adapt to shifting priorities.
#3 Change Up Your Surroundings
Changing something about your surroundings can help you refocus. Can you get up and move? Now that it’s summer, could you work outside? Disrupting your groove gives you the opportunity to reset your focus. Changing where you physically are or even something small like switching up your music is super effective!
What ways have you found to reset your focus and give yourself a physical or mental break?
How to: Declutter Your Digital Space
Let’s be honest, having a totally cleaned out inbox or a completely crossed off to-do list is one of life’s great joys. Clean digital workspace can help your focus and productivity. So what can you do to declutter your digital space?
- Put in a gap. Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University, said many people succumb to what he calls the list/reactive method: They instantly react to communication. That means answering texts, emails, messages as soon as they pop up and therefore constantly interrupting their workflow. Waiting to answer messages until a time that’s more convenient for you can help you stay focused and actually make progress on your work.
- Set a schedule. Set aside time to focus on work communications and then let your colleagues know when that is. Sticking to “office hours” can be surprisingly helpful.. Going from a Zoom video to a call with your kid’s school to texting about social plans with friends can blur the lines between personal and professional. Dr. Newport says, “It blends together the lives completely, You’re never not working. You always feel behind.”
- Take control of your inbox. If you have to delete tons of promotional emails everyday, the consider unsubscribing. Having less to go through everyday will save you time and help you feel like you’ve accomplished something at the start of your day!
- Streamline your workflow. If you are collaborating with a team, emails threads can get long and if you have multiple streaks of communication, it can get confusing. Having a streamlined and structured process “substantially reduces the number of simultaneous, asynchronous back and forth conversations happening,” Dr. Newport said.
What ways have you found to declutter your digital workspace?