The new way of working – Workplace Experience Research
Previously, work-related activities were primarily performed in the office. In recent years, employees have been given the option to choose: in the office, at home, or somewhere else. It appears that people see solitary work that requires concentration as activities best performed at home (or elsewhere). Such activities include reading, writing, and analyzing. Despite the increase in the use of digital meeting tools to meet is the office still the preferred workplace for activities that require interaction such as meetings, knowledge sharing, and brainstorming. Organizations have been incentivized in the past few years to expand or adapt the work environment to this trend. The question is whether organizations will start doing so immediately, or wait until the covid-19 storm has subsided. In any case, the changing conditions will have a lasting impact on how end-users experience work and the work environment.
Structural and lasting changes
The covid pandemic has changed end-user’s needs for work. This change and the associated des
ires and requirements have an influence on the design of the work environment. Working from home has taken off and is here to stay. Resulting in a focus shift at the office: from a place for desk work to a place to meet and work together. With, not to be forgotten, additional concentration areas. Many organizations have already invested in facilities suited for hybrid working. However, some organizations are waiting to see how work will take shape after the COVID -19 pandemic. On the shoulders of the facility managers rests a challenging task. As we emerge from crisis mode, the question is what happens next. What function will the office have and what consequences will this have for housing and facility services? A few trends are already casting their shadow.
There is a greater need to work from home
In the period after the COVID -19 pandemic outbreak, March 2020 till present, end-users were asked a set of questions. Where they worked from before the pandemic and where they think they would be able to work most effectively when covid is no longer a factor.
In Europe and North America on average, 80 percent of work took place in the office versus 20 percent at home or elsewhere. However, respondents also indicated that they expect to spend 40 percent of the workweek working from home to work most effectively. Thus, there was a discrepancy pre-covid between where people actually worked and where they thought they could work most effectively. During the pandemic, respondents indicated that, on average, 50 percent of their work could be done most effectively at the office and the other 50 percent elsewhere, particularly at home.
The need to work outside the office (primarily at home) was already increasingly evident before the pandemic. That need grew during the covid pandemic. Organizations and employees had to adapt to the prevailing measures, where the motto was working from home for an extended period of time. Circumstances have given homework facilities a place within organizations’ policies. As a result, many organizations have invested in this. This has led to a change in all sectors in how people experience the work environment and where they think they can work most effectively.
Solitary work is done at home, collaboration at the office
In addition to asking where people expect to work most effectively, we asked which activities are best performed at home, in the office, or elsewhere. Just after the covid -19 pandemic outbreak, there was a large-scale need to work from home. When asked, respondents indicated that solitary activities were most effectively done at home. Respondents indicated a preference for activities such as writing, reading, and analyzing at home. This is also technically feasible. We see that after two years of living with covid this trend continues. In terms of meetings, the location depends on the nature of the discussion. Going over the weekly figures or a short brief reconciliation can be done just fine from home. More personal consultations such as performance reviews are preferably held in the office. For activities such as brainstorming and skill sharing, the office is also seen as the most effective location. In addition, the office is also the preferred location for interpersonal activities such as performance appraisals, onboarding new people, and coaching. Conducting (one-on-one) interviews is estimated to be the activity best performed in the office; respondents indicate that they are the least likely to do this from home.
More people are neutral or averagely satisfied with the work environment
The covid pandemic not only affects where people choose to work, but also affects end users’ satisfaction with work and the work environment. This satisfaction was tested based on about twenty influential aspects that have an influence on work. These are health and safety law-related aspects such as ergonomic furniture, and structural aspects such as light and acoustics. As well as less tangible subjects such as identity and connection.
It appears that fewer people are very satisfied with their work environment in 2021 compared to 2020. But there are also fewer people (very) dissatisfied. In a nutshell: there are fewer extreme ratings while significantly more people are neutral and satisfied. This is average across all sectors; between sectors we see significant differences.
The quantitative survey results also provide a picture of changes within the sectors surveyed. We distinguish five sectors: public services, industry, government, business services, and healthcare. The common thread is the same everywhere: during the pandemic, end-users indicate that they want to work more from home compared to the period before the pandemic. Within these sectors, there are some differences in the results. In particular where respondents expect to work most effectively. This may be related to the substantive activities that are carried out within the sectors. In addition, per sector, there are also differences in satisfaction with the work environment.
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