Jonathan Cartu Report: 5 ways the future office must change, according to a

5 ways the future office must change, according to a

As employers welcome workers back to the office this summer, many are still figuring out how to meet growing employee demand to embrace hybrid work. According to a recent Randstad US survey of more than 1,200 workers, more than half, 54%, say they prefer a flexible arrangement that allows them to work both on-site and remotely beyond the pandemic.

Worldwide, companies are listening and working to adapt, according to a Boston Consulting Group survey that found 93% of global companies indicate that they plan to permanently change remote work and meeting policies even after the health crisis is over.

As a workplace technologist, Nadjia Yousif, managing director and partner of BCG’s London office, has seen the benefits and downsides to new tech and workflows introduced during the pandemic. Moving forward with a hybrid model, she tells CNBC Make It the future office will need to change in five key ways.

Designing the office for employee connection

Survey after survey indicates people want to continue working from home to do more focus work and individual tasks. Days spent in the office, then, will be reserved for brainstorming, meeting and socializing.

Yousif says employers should plan for their offices to be gathering spaces, not just for work meetings, but for more employee wellbeing and social engagement. That could include, for example, dining options so workers can grab lunch with a colleague, or casual meeting areas for one-on-one mentoring sessions.

She adds that the office will remain crucial for onboarding new hires so they can meet some of their colleagues in person and get a feel for the company culture through its physical presence.

Support for new hires and chance encounters

The right communication tools

Better virtual meetings

Similarly, Yousif says offices should be outfitted with technology to hold meetings that can accommodate employees in different locations. Even if a full team is back in-person, some buildings may have limits on how many people can be in a conference room, requiring some attendees to dial in from their desks.

This could very well go against the benefits of being back onsite, Yousif says, “but if you’re in a meeting room with a high-quality camera that captures the whole room,” it could feel just as if you’re in the room participating in-person.

In the physical meeting room, Yousif says displays should be big enough to accommodate screens of virtual attendees as well as presentation materials; attendees should also be able to chime in with comments or questions without tech mishaps. At home, employees should have the right equipment to see the meeting room and presentation, too.

Meeting flexibility extends to external partners, too. Yousif says she and her team already expect to do much less business travel, even as normal travel resumes: “From a sustainability point of view, we don’t want to go back to that at all. So we’re now thinking, “OK, what’s our model of [working] in an effective way, across borders without having to physically go to another country?”

Clearer work boundaries

Billy Xiong

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