The Future of the Office: Rosa Rolo

As part of an interview series with Little Black Book in 2020, we spoke to influential industry professionals including Sir John Hegarty, Rory Sutherland, Rani Patel Williams and Ete Davies to explore their perspectives on the changing role of the office and how it will affect businesses.

Almost a year on from those interviews, how has the office fared and how have businesses developed their workplace policies?

With the government no longer instructing people to work from home, leaders are now challenged with either persuading employees back into the office, investing in tech infrastructure to improve the working from home experience, or a combination of the two.

As expected, businesses up and down the country aren’t all converging on the same workplace model. A recent pulse survey undertaken on LinkedIn (550 respondents), shows that almost a third (29%) of employees are still working fully remote, while 50% of businesses are exercising flexible hours/days policies. The remainder of employees are either in the office half of the month (15%) or are in full time (7%).

Based on insights from business leaders and workplace strategists, there are five workplace models that are currently being adopted up and down the country:

9 to 5 – employees returning to the office, resuming their regular nine-to-five routine. There is likely to be a greater flexibility, but the general expectation is that the way of working is similar to prior to the pandemic.

Clubhouse – a hybrid model where employees come into the office when they need to collaborate and then return home for their focussed work. The office is more of a social hub – a place where people meet, work together, and socialise.

Activity – employees work from the office but do not have an assigned desk. Instead, they spend their day moving between a variety of workspaces including meeting room, booths, desks, and lounges.

Hubs – rather than travelling into a central space, employees work from smaller satellite offices or locations closer to where they live, cutting out the commute but remaining in a more sociable space.

Fully Virtual – employees work from home, or anywhere they like, no longer being required to come into the office.

While none of these workplace models are necessarily new, they prove a radical shift from the traditional office many of us are still used to and each has its own set of drawbacks whether financial, cultural, or other.

According to data from our 2021 Salary Survey, 72% of UK workers want to retain a hybrid working model, sharing their time between the office and home (clubhouse and activity-based models.) While the traditional 9-5 model appears to be the least favoured as employees continue to seek a better work/life balance. We are seeing this is a key factor when employees are choosing new roles at the moment.

It’s important that leaders weigh up which model(s) best suit them in line with the company’s purpose, people, processes, and productivity. These models should also not be seen as a one size fits all approach as each business has different needs and requirements. Nor should they be seen as fixed arrangements, one the key things learnt from the pandemic is the need to be flexible and adaptable to market and societal conditions.

Although there will still be twists and turns in this pandemic, businesses cannot afford to hesitate on implementing their long-term workplace policies, as these sorts of decisions will define their path out of the pandemic. By creating workplace policies that embrace collaboration, innovation, creativity and learning will survive and thrive in this new era of work.

As mentioned in our Q2 Commercial Update the job market is at the busiest it’s been since pre-2008; there is a war for talent and ensuring you are positioning yourself as an employer of choice is vital.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above or understand how we can help you attract, engage and retain the best talent in the market please do not hesitate to get in touch.