Office or Hybrid: What Does Your Post-Covid World Look Like?
Over the past 8 months, we have paid close attention to the social effects of Covid (read here), the technological effects (read here) and the ways to survive a virtual work life (read here). With the world slowly returning to ‘normal’ it is time to ask the questions, what is ‘normal’ for you and will we ever truly return?
‘Do not underestimate the power of technology’ – Xavier Rolet
Over the past 8 months, we have paid close attention to the social effects of Covid (read here), the technological effects (read here) and the ways to survive a virtual work-life (read here). With the world slowly returning to ‘normal’ it is time to ask the questions, what is ‘normal’ for you and will we ever truly return?
The ‘new normal’
The new normal is definitely not a new concept - the idea that the world has irreconcilably changed due to Covid is anything but unrealistic. However, now that restrictions have been lifted it is becoming increasingly clear that the Government would like the world to return to its status quo. Rishi Sunak told LinkedIn News that he still talks to his early mentors at Goldman Sachs and doubts he ‘would have those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship over Teams and Zooms’. Therefore, he encourages young people to decrease their remote working, if not stop it altogether and get back into the office to work effectively – fair?
Albeit it is true that human interaction has decreased dramatically over the last year and a half, the minister is seemingly overlooking the power of technology. Yes, you may not be physically involved in boardroom meetings however, in a way, technology equalises everyone. On Zoom, the hierarchy within the workplace dwindles and the battleground equalises – albeit maybe not in such a dramatic manner. Dramatics aside, the point is that the younger generation is hardly restricted by technology and can utilise it in a way that office working does not allow. For example, virtual and remote working provides international opportunities to those who it may not have been viable for before Covid. Young people can take up internships in offices in the USA, Europe or even China from the comfort of their own living rooms/kitchens (!) – I would hardly deem that restrictive.
Will we ever be in the office full time again?
Although the Government is pushing for a full-time office return, most firms are taking a cautious approach to bringing staff back into the workplace. For example, Deloitte has been increasing the number of staff allowed to work in its offices from 30% during restrictions, 50% currently and will keep slowly increasing until September. KPMG has allowed people to work from its offices if they have made a request to their manager.
As far as we’re aware, most law firms are taking a blended approach with 3 days of the week being spent in either the office or at home.
What do we think?
It is very unlikely that life will go back to the way it was, working will never be as uninformed as it once was. The idea of working and working hours is now subjective. To one person, a perfect working day is a 9-5, to another it’s an 8-6 and to those who have young children, it may be 6-3. Frankly, it is going to be difficult to convince people that a 9-5 every day in the office is more effective than the way they have been working for a year and a half – it’s also quite unfair.