When home-working isn’t always the future you think it is

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Since we all shifted to working from home I have been wondering; what will cities and offices look like in the future and what will our homes become if this becomes the ‘new normal’.

I’m fascinated to see what will happen to the world of work when we are gradually allowed back outside and back to work. This article was shared on LinkedIn this week and I wasn’t surprised to read that 74% of the CEOs surveyed plan to move 5% of their workforce to permanently home based.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be exploring this in more detail. What are the implications for our definition of discretionary spend? What does it mean for the rhythm of the organisation? How does it impact our need for community and third space?

While some of this more flexible and home working approach works for some, it doesn’t work for everyone. So, if you’re a CEO and an MD looking at how this will impact how you work, and importantly how you can shift workers to home more permanently to reduce costs – here are some things to consider:

  • Your boss is in your house. If you don’t get on with your boss, or even co-workers, they are now in your home. That intrusion, feeling of invasion can be incredibly damaging and at the moment, when there isn’t choice, it is something to be mindful of – if there is anyone in a disciplinary process or anything that is happening around complaints through HR it’s worth checking in how people are feeling with this change
  • Home should be a place distinct from work where you can switch off. It’s what it has been. The third space concept from Ray Oldenburg talks about places that are not home or work, but places we build communities – these are equally important to society and yet now we have all of those spaces in one. We joke about turning different rooms into pubs or coffee shops but many don’t have the luxury of space and we do need different places for different things
  • The novelty will wear off. We are social animals. Yes, we can do this over video conferencing and there is a novelty to this at the moment – but our brains will get bored of it soon and then what? What can feel like an exciting change as we embrace something so uncertain and make the best of it, will change rapidly when we are able to go back into society.

So, if you’re looking at how things will change, what your office will be and how home working is so efficient and productive for some. Please take time to speak to people, individually, to find out how it is for them. Don’t make decisions without the data and don’t assume this is ok for everyone just because it is ok for the few.

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