Coronavirus: Why office demand will continue
Corporate CEOs and their HR managers, or rather “Directors of People and Culture”, will have some interesting challenges over the coming weeks and months as they deal with the fact that the organisational structure of their businesses – the thing we call The Office – is being ransacked and changed, possibly forever.
A friend who works for one of the big banks says his team has been told that only 20-40% of them will be working in the office for at least the next 12 months – the rest will continue to work from home. I understand that sort of instruction is becoming commonplace.
Hot-desking is dead, and good riddance. Open plan offices are probably a thing of the past as well, at least those with close seating, and the days of the CEO being a man or woman of the people and sitting out with the troops are also finished.
At the very least, desks will have Perspex screens separating them, often with semicircles on the floor around the chair indicating safe distance, and there may be arrows in the spaces between desks indicating the one-way direction of travel.
Only allowing two or three people at a time in lifts will mean staggered start times because we won’t all be able to get to our floors at the same time, especially in big buildings with thousands of workers in them. There’ll be no gathering together in recreation spaces, heating lunches in the microwave together, playing ping pong.
Meetings will usually include at least some people on Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, so they will always have to be scheduled: spontaneous discussions between team members are out, as is chitchat on Monday morning about the footy, which will be boring anyway because we can’t go to the game and watching it on TV with silence and empty stands is not the same.