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Sasha Hoey

Sasha Hoey

Marketing Executive
What does the future of the office look like? The results are in! | Part 2
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THE FUTURE OF THE OFFICE

With a slow trickle of individuals deciding to return to the office over the past few weeks, we’re seeing a mixture of different reactions. Some are keen to get back to working in a different environment and others are still content to remain at home. From 1 August, the Government will be giving employers more discretion to reopen offices in consultation with their staff, provided they can prove it is safe to do so.

In light of this, we want to share our findings on what teams say they will be using the office space for in the future and whether the pandemic has caused any major shifts in this behaviour. In this article, we share the results of questions posed to over 500 office-based employees and decision-makers on what they think the future of the office will look like.

Before starting the survey, we asked respondents to answer our questions with a longer-term view, assuming current immediate issues such as hygiene and transport concerns are not a factor.

So, let’s take a look at what people think about the future of the office:


The RESULTS

At-a-glance summary (Click to expand):


Most miss the social side of the office 

40% of respondents are most looking forward to socialising when/if their company returns to the office. This is followed by an improved working environment (21%) and a clear separation between work and home (20%).

What are you most looking forward to when/if your company returns to the office?

What does this mean?

As we have already discovered, working from home can be great for focused work. However, at the advantage of better focus, there are a range of other important benefits that are being sacrificed by working away from the office and in particular, with colleagues.

For many, what distinguishes task management from valuable work is the sense of belonging, community and culture of being a part of something in the company that you work for – that is generally less prevalent and more difficult to form when operating remotely. Particularly for younger team members, for many, their colleagues also make up their close circle of friends and form a large part of their social life even outside of work.

What this indicates is that the fundamental nature of people to build connections, find inspiration and learn from others to improve themselves, their work and the world around them is important to many.


The office will mostly be used for ‘human’ work and building in-person connections 

Respondents said they see themselves using the office most in the future for:

  1. A space to meet clients
  2. For collaboration
  3. A place for social interactions
Which 3 out of the following do you see yourself using your office for most in the future?

What does this mean?

Generating sales is all about establishing a connection and understanding the emotional state of your clients. Only then can you ever really aim to solve their problems and deliver the right product or service to meet their needs. Our results show that many are attempting to delve into the problems of their clients remotely but are finding it difficult to really resonate with them. What is clear is that meeting spaces and being able to connect in-person is what really holds power for gaining clients.

As well as this, the need for the office as a space for collaboration and social interactions really shows how teams are missing each other. Fully engaged teamwork with abstract thinking and collaborative work is difficult to do when not in-person.

Although we have found that focused work is the easiest type of work to be done at home, this is definitely not true for everyone. If being able to focus is the biggest pro to working from home, then what this really means is that offices are not being thought about properly to best facilitate this type of work.


Leadership, sales and finance want to get back into the office first

84% think that some teams more than others — will be more inclined to work from the office in the future. The teams most likely to work from the office: 

  • Leadership (19%)
  • Sales (17%)
  • Finance (17%)
  • Operations (12%)
  • Tech (11%)
Do you think some teams will be more inclined to work from the office in the future than others?

Select from the below which team you think will be most likely to work from the office.

What does this mean?

Different managers have different management styles, with some needing plenty of contact time whilst others preferring regular check-ins. What is true for every leadership team is the need to ensure that they can catch any problems in real-time and unlock their teams potential to do their best work. With this type of work needing to be available at any time, it is understandable why most think that it is the leadership level who want to return to the office first.

Next to that, sales teams are often engaged in highs and lows as they transition from great client calls to bad ones. What they are certainly missing when working remotely is the rest of the team to bounce this energy off of and ‘reset’, especially after difficult interactions.

For finance teams, it is clear that many functions are just easier done in-person. Having to be almost tied at the hip to C-Suite executives, the finance team are certainly the ones who would benefit from information gathering quickly in an in-person environment.


Zoom has had its day, but now we’ve had enough

92% think that at least some meetings are better held in person.

Do you think team meetings are better held in person?

What does this mean?

How many times have you heard the words: ‘Great – I’ll send you over a Zoom link’? It was exciting and fun for the first few months, but now we’ve had enough. Zoom-fatigue is real. With your day quickly turning into a calendar blocked out with zoom call after zoom call, it can very quickly become exhausting with time spent attending awkward starts and ends to calls. Whereas, in-person meetings can be spontaneous, quick and even fun.


All-hands meetings are preferred on a weekly or monthly basis

38% think it is important for the whole company to get together on a weekly basis, 33% on a monthly basis.

How often do you think it is important for the whole company to get together?

What does this mean?

Having visited my office and team last week for the first time in 4 months, I must say that I felt elated, instantly connected and more ‘in the know’ of the happenings of the company.

In our previous findings on working from home, many employees feel disconnected in general, this is why most prefer regular meetings either on a weekly or monthly basis. It is important that whole team meetings continue to happen and involve those working remotely and those in the office to ensure every person feels connected.


We rely on other people and teams to get our work done

91% believe that face to face interactions and collaboration are important in some way in their work.

How important are face to face interactions and collaboration in your work?

What does this mean?

We already know that the office is important for facilitating in-person/collaborative work. This response shows that this actually forms a large part of the day-to-day work of many. We should be optimising this to the greatest extent and whether that is in the office environment or remotely, this should be a top priority for any leadership team.


The office is a large part of company culture

78% feel that having a physical office space is important to maintain the culture of their company.

Do you feel that to maintain the culture of your company, having a physical office space is important?

What does this mean?

Company culture is not usually a term that can be described easily. If you asked a cross-section of people in your company what does culture mean, it is unlikely that you would receive the same answer from any individual. What is more certain is that to many people, the office plays an important part in retaining it.

The culture of a business can be everything that it is at it’s heart – its values, its customs and its people. It’s ‘how we do things here’ – the good and the bad. Without it, new starters will quite frankly struggle to settle into their new environment and properly feel a part of the ‘tribe’.

At Kitt, our culture and values are the heart of everything we do. Culture not only forms the way we act towards each other but is also a core criteria of our hiring process and even forms the standards around which companies we choose to work with. Without it – who are we? And without the office, are we really empowered to represent our culture as well as we could be?


summary

So, what does the future of the office look like?

Well, as long as businesses continue to value human connections, collaboration and their company culture, it is likely that the office will continue play an important part. For many who regard working from home as a place to focus as the biggest bonus, in reality, there is no reason that offices can’t provide the same thing. What really needs thinking through is how the office facilitates all kinds of work – be that introverted focus work or social, collaborative meetings.

At a time where the WFH movement is louder than ever, it is necessary to take a step back and listen to what individuals and teams truly value in their working environment. It is clear that WFH has a fantastic positive impact for many but what is also equally as striking is that many are fighting to return to the office for fundamental causes relating to their core motivations, inspirations and perhaps even the main reason that they wanted to work for their company in the first place.

For more information on our Future of Work survey, get in touch with Sasha in our Marketing Team at: [email protected]


Missed Part 1?

Click here to read Part 1, in which our respondents answer questions relating to their experience of Working from Home. 

 


PART 3 COMING TUESDAY 4TH AUGUST – ‘QUESTIONS TO DECISION-MAKERS’

In Part 3 of our Future of Work series, we release the results on some interesting product questions to decision-makers.

Sign up to our mailing list and be the first to hear when our Part 3 results go live:

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