Office work. The challenge is to start over

In the endless debate about the ideal work model: face-to-face, telecommuting or hybrid, a radically important aspect is perhaps being overlooked. At least as important as the work model is the design of the work office. The meeting place for the members of the organization, the common space: the office.

Office work, whether face-to-face or hybrid, has seen its transformation accelerated both by the rapid evolution of new technologies and by the pandemic. In fact, we are in the midst of this transformation, and it is therefore difficult to predict which direction it will take.

What seems certain is that, whatever the work model chosen, the office must be a comfortable and pleasant place, where work is pleasant enough to make the idea of going to work in the office appealing.

And after all, teleworking is also directly affected, since the proper coordination of all team members includes those who work remotely, both incidentally and on an ongoing basis. And the same applies to external collaborators.

It is, in any case, relatively easier for everyone to adapt their own home to their preferences. But the technological solutions that enable the integration of face-to-face, hybrid and remote models will determine the optimization of collaborative processes, and therefore of the organization's results.

What do employees expect from office work?

The truth is that, as many surveys and studies seem to indicate, employees prefer teleworking and, in any case, a high degree of flexibility. All workers expect our workplace to become healthier, more comfortable, more functional, more accessible. Even more fun.

The confinement caused by the worst moments of the pandemic led us to a collective rethinking of the meaning of work and professional experience. As we continue to reflect on what we expect from work, the question of office work becomes pressing: how should a space be organized and work teams coordinated so that employees feel truly satisfied?

In our previous publication, we already devoted our attention to the "Great Resignation", the phenomenon that spread to all industrialized countries after the pandemic and brought with it the voluntary and massive abandonment of the workplace by millions of workers. Returning to their old jobs, they decided to turn around and start over. To start over.

And that is what those responsible for managing the office in every workspace must now do: rethink what elements make the office an incentive to go to work. And to stay in the workplace.

Talent retention

The question of new and emerging strategies for talent retention concerns the professional performance of employees, the quality of the work performed and the results of that work.

Workspaces appear as a determining factor for talent retention. When office work is presented as desirable, it contributes to the well-being of employees, and this well-being depends both on the physical conditions of the design of the material elements of the office and on the efficient and controlled allocation of these spaces.

New technologies offer tools and solutions that contribute decisively to well-being and organization, and should therefore be used accordingly. The future of office work has its fundamental structures defined in what is known as Office 5.0.

The future of office work: Office 5.0

The 5.0 office represents the ideal model for integrating talent retention strategies, workspace design and efficient organization, including all the elements of energy efficiency that are so relevant in our time (and increasingly so!).

The objective is to enhance the values and capabilities of people through the following aspects that make up the 5.0 office ideal:

  • Integration of technology and work
  • Optimization of commuting times
  • Flexible working hours
  • Organizational efficiency
  • Quick and easy access to information
  • Promoting freedom, creativity and autonomy
  • Configuration of spaces with conducive acoustic and visual structures
  • Furnishings designed to ensure comfort, well-being and coordination
  • Virtual social spaces

Successful implementation of these aspects often requires a mindset that is open to change. Let us remember that the adoption and management of change is itself a fundamental strategy of digital transformation processes. Sometimes it will be a matter of adapting existing means, sometimes it will be a matter of introducing new means, and sometimes it will be a matter of starting over, rethinking the model and moving to a new one.

Digital transformation in the workplace

Digital leadership is a management strategy aimed at optimizing the quality and functionality of the company's digital assets. As we have seen, the design of workspaces and the integration of technological solutions are intimately linked, so digital transformation directly affects the establishment of the office work model we choose.

The most recognizable technologies in any authentic digital transformation process: Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, Big Data, Internet of Things or extended reality (virtual, augmented and mixed), not only serve to manage data. They can also be used to optimize the design and organization of spaces, improve the coordination of work teams and create development tools in every aspect of the company's activity.

What's more, the efficient combination of all these technologies is what makes up the digital transformation. The information generated, processed and optimized through their use serves to enhance the applications of each of them separately. If we take as a reference augmented reality applications aimed at optimizing office work, we find the following solutions already implemented in numerous companies:

  • Optimized coordination of organizational resources
  • Management of meeting spaces, workstations and parking spaces
  • Hot desking
  • Reward and gamification strategies
  • Integration of face-to-face, telecommuting and hybrid models
  • Virtual meetings, remote booking and check-in management

In conclusion

What we have seen so far are elements and factors that can help ensure that our employees want to return to the office. And that whatever time they spend in the office, it is an enjoyable and productive time. In addition, the levels of savings, predictability and efficiency of office work that these proposals entail are also part of any business strategy for true sustainability.

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