Globally, the effects of COVID-19 have changed the way we work. The global workforce has become a part of the largest work-from-home experiment, causing a dramatic disruption to the office working culture. As per a report published by Colliers International, this shift will affect not only how we work in the short-term but will also have far-reaching effects on the future of work and the workplace.
In early March, Colliers’ global Workplace Advisory team launched the first global ‘Work-from-Home’ experience survey, just as employees were immediately transitioning into new and varying work-from-home circumstances. The survey has generated responses across APAC measuring how respondents experience working from home and the levels of desire to work from home after COVID-19. The core aim of the survey was to collect data in order to understand how people are experiencing working from home and identify potential medium and long-term impacts.
The report looks further ahead (1-3 years), outlining all APAC-specific data insights related to working from home and addresses the areas including productivity, desire, impacts on work-life balance, and managing remote workers.
Productivity - While working from home, productivity levels did not change for many people. The data shows that productivity was maintained at a reasonable level, largely due to our natural instincts to adjust to new and adverse environments. Another key aspect of productivity is maintaining connectedness with colleagues through scheduled check points, either to discuss work or simply have coffee breaks over video calls.
Collaboration - COVID-19 has demonstrated that WFH can be successful, employees are happier and welcome this as an ongoing option. However, this by no means removes the need of a physical office. Offices should be repurposed and offer a variety of facilities to encourage collaboration and connection.
Desire to work from home - Working from home is here to stay, but physical offices remain necessary. In APAC, we are significantly less experienced in working from home than the Americas and EMEA. Globally, around half of the respondents would prefer to work from home at least 1 - 2 days a week.
Work-life balance - Respondents’ work-life balance has improved since working from home. On an average, 63% of respondents indicated that their work-life balance has improved since working from home.
Managing remote work - 89% of respondents indicated they felt trusted by their managers during the work-from-home period.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has forced corporates to maintain seamless business operations while maintaining social distancing in the office or having employees work-from-home, triggering the largest ever work-from-home experiment around the globe. There are two aspects of the workplace that have become more prominent post-COVID-19 – the undeniable dependency on technology and flexibility in how and where people work.
The office is definitely not dead; however, it is likely to change in its functionality and size, both in the short term and the medium to long-term. The potential impact will differ from organisation to organisation. As an organisation it is important to safely allow employees to return to the office in the short term with efficient and effective social distancing measures in place. Furthermore, it is imperative as an organisation to be proactive and not reactive by understanding now what the wide range of potential future real estate solutions could be.
“Office is an environment where people feel comfortable to collaborate and work together. The need for that will not cease to exist due to the virus. The new normal will only create a new balance, with focus on flexibility”, said Arnab Ghosh, National Director, Fit-out at Colliers International India.