2020 has been a steep learning curve for humanity – and the way we live and work may never be the same again. 

As employees around the world found themselves working from home out of necessity, productivity levels for the coming year were anyone’s guess.

In the event, many businesses found themselves with a happier and more efficient workforce despite the challenges of the Covid-19  pandemic and the new trend seemed to be for a blended approach of office days, interspersed with periods of working from home. 

In this article we’ll take a closer look at this new trend which looks set to become a permanent fixture at many businesses around the world but will certainly not be making offices obsolete, if all employees have their say.

The case for working from home – some of the time 

Harvard and New York Universities recently released the results of a large survey conducted to find out whether working from home was really an improvement for professional teams across the US and beyond – and the results were encouraging. 

  • With employees reporting reduced stress due to avoiding traffic and a hectic morning routine – despite the added stress of living through a pandemic – many companies saw productivity rise during the lockdown period. 
  • These findings are mirrored in the South African experience as household names like Dimension Data, RMB and Shoprite are opting to switch to a partial work from home regimen for the rest of 2020 and beyond. 
  • In the same breath, companies such as IBM and Facebook in the States still plan to move ahead with their plans for new office space for decentralised hubs and “hybrid work policies” and Amazon Music recently signed on for 40 000sq2 of production and recording space.

Home offices and coffee shop brainstorming sessions are hardly new – but this style of working simply hadn’t been attempted on a large scale until the Coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise this year. 

While productivity levels may rise on paper with employees staying home, a crucial aspect of working life can only be carried out at the office: good old fashioned collaboration. 

Flexibility, tailor-made solutions and the blended working model 

Certain jobs and tasks such as bookkeeping and analytics may be able to be done from home – especially in the era of cloud computing – but there are other activities that quite simply can’t take place effectively in isolation. 

Anyone who has attended Zoom meetings or presented to clients remotely will know just how challenging the digital medium can be for extended interpersonal communication. Connectivity issues, awkward silences, and unexpected interruptions – sometimes of an embarrassing nature – can all add to the inconvenience of doing everything remotely. 

From a Remote to Blended Working Model

At the heart of it – working remotely is not for everyone, although the form and function of the future office will need to evolve.

  • To strike a balance between social distancing, convenience and collaboration many companies are opting for a 3 days at work, 2 days at home model going forward. 
  • Employees may be asked to work from home or at a coffee shop or other location of their choice that’s not too far from the office – or a remote meeting hub designated by the company. 
  • From a commercial property point of view, this probably means a future that will feature decentralised businesses, compact office spaces, and a vibrant market with smaller floor space per client and more flexible rental terms. 

To view our portfolio of modern commercial properties that are ideal for blended working, contact the Commercial Space team today.