Return to the office

The New Office Normal

Sam Tucker

Oct 5, 2020

The headlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been clear: “The WFH revolution spells the end of the office”. Big Tech firms and Banks alike have been announcing one by one that their employees may never have to return to the office, sparking fears for commercial real estate owners across the globe.

This message is casting dread when falling on the ears of the old school office worker who still hasn’t quite got to grips with Zoom, the parent struggling to ignore their screaming toddler next door, or indeed those who miss a bit of office gossip!

However, for all the aforementioned, it is clear that an office is still paramount for any company to function efficiently, not to mention for the wellbeing of employees. From showing the ropes to newbies in the office to ‘rallying the troops’ before meeting a new client, the old school office is far from defunct. It is blatant that an office is a prerequisite to functioning, as well as a happy, company.

That being said, the benefits of working from home have been explicitly highlighted throughout the past few months; one of which is the savings on renting vast office spaces. With office space costing an average $10,000 per employee annually according to JLL, an office used at less than full capacity will strike many a CFO as a great opportunity to save some money. In addition to obvious fiscal benefits, liberating employees from the constraints of a daily commute is a first step towards creating a company that employees will want to work for.

A balance between both options is the self-evident solution to many peoples’ worries. By way of example, one may have Monday and Thursday in the office while on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday they are at home behind your laptop.

Could this lead to the return of hot-desking, a seemingly short-lived concept, brought in by many cash strapped set-ups wanting a quick fix for their balance sheets? The failings of this way of working have traditionally been blamed on sub-par collaboration tools of the time, low confidence, and a certain stigma around remote working as well as the chaos that would ensue when people had to scramble to win a good working spot each morning.

There are many things to consider if you put yourself in the shoes of an HR manager while sitting behind their desk or indeed on their sofa at home tasked with coordinating the return to the office. Here are just a few things they must consider:

  1. Who hates the monotony of their tube journey each morning as opposed to those who love spilling out the escalator into the hustle and bustle of the city.

  2. Who works with who — without planning and organization there is a risk of an employee leaving their sofa to come into an empty office or the rest of your team has stayed at home.

  3. Who is crucial for the office to function, they need to be given priority.

  4. Who has a client meeting in the office on Monday?

  5. Who hasn’t been able to get in for a couple of weeks so needs a priority in the search for a desk.

  6. Who needs to be at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays for childcare.

Assigning employees daily schedules around their requests while aligning teams and collaborators schedules to coincide will no doubt be an arduous task for HR. This feasible but tedious task is further complicated when further questions are considered: how do you know who works with who? Not only this but how do you make sure that employees get to work with the people they need to? Allow them on a team by team basis and find yourself prohibiting cross-team collaboration. Small teams. Big teams. Bosses. Interns. Friends. Colleagues. Any company is a complex web of colleagues, clusters, and connections with intricacies only its own employees can understand and therefore must be treated as such. Graph theory, the foundation of Facebook, is a model that organizes this network of people mapping their connections allowing small subnetworks to be formed. This is key to Common Surface being able to understand how to organize your office better than anything or anyone else.

Our product can input several pieces of information and output the most coherent and effective formula in order to allocate the office space efficiency of your company your company’s new office normal.

The benefits of remote and office working are clear, and a balance between the two is the future of the modern office. Organizing that balance has its difficulties and solving those difficulties in the most efficient way lends itself to a smart system you can find at commonsurface.com.

Join the revolution by creating “the new office normal” with us.

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