10 Insights from 100 Interviews with Workplace Managers

10 Insights from 100 Interviews with Workplace Managers

In the past couple of weeks, we talked to workplace managers all over Europe working for companies of different sizes active in all kinds of industries. We discussed changes in the working world ranging from the shift to hybrid working models to post-pandemic trends, office redesign plans and employee attraction programs. Amongst the numerous findings, we summarized the 10 most relevant insights from 100 interviews with workplace managers for you.

Future of Work
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3
 Min read
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June 30, 2021
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1. There is no Back To Normal, but a New Normal

The amount of people who want everything to be like it was before Covid-19 entered our lives is shrinking. Many have learnt to embrace the changes the pandemic has forced us to undergo. For instance, companies found out that working from home does not necessarily harm productivity. Therefore, many organizations have introduced a hybrid working model which allows employees to blend working from home or remotely with office days. The hybrid model has thus come to stay.

2. Activity-based Working Will Be(come) Prevalent

When assessing productivity under the new work location circumstances, the activity-based work model has proven itself to be successful. It encourages employees to focus on deep work when they are based at home in order not to be interrupted during concentration phases. Team work, project meetings or other discussions are held in the office to facilitate verbal and non-verbal communication. Therefore, teams often establish one or more office days when everyone from that specific group will be in the office.

3. Employees need to manage their own work week as efficiently as possible

As employees switch their work locations more frequently than ever, there are a number of challenges that arise. First of all, organizing one’s work week should not become a time consuming task, but be done through an easy and straight-forward system. Secondly, workplace managers’ opinions are divided about whether employees should individually decide when to come into the office or whether it should be centrally decided. Some plead for central decision making to avoid the creation of out-office and in-office groups as well as to foster diversity (you can read more about this position in this article on HBR). Others are all for empowering  employees to organize themselves. As there is no right or wrong way to do it, we can recommend making this decision dependent on your organization’s specific circumstances.

Man preparing coffee in a office setting with large wooden table and many chairs
Taking a coffee with one's coworkers is thoroughly missed in home office.


4. Going to the office will be a social decision

Workplace managers unanimously agree on this. The fact that one’s favorite coworker is in the office becomes a reason to go there. Employees are keen to know who is in the office and where they can find them. This helps them to pick their office days and desks. In addition, the revitalization of office culture has become increasingly important in the last months.

5. Need for Office Analytics

As employees continue to work remotely and in-office, office managers are faced with the increasing complexity of managing their office space. They want to know exactly how much of their office space is used and needed. Office analytics can also provide insights into seasonal trends and help to optimize space usage next to saving office costs. It is crucial that workplace managers receive exact and detailed figures about their office in order to derive actionable recommendations for the future office development.

6. Offices will be redesigned

As the logical consequence of the previous learning, it is clear that most office spaces will require a redesign or even a redefinition of their purpose. Depending on which hybrid working model a company chooses, the new design will be adapted. Whilst some smaller redesigns such as the shift to more flexible than fixed desks, the creation of larger open spaces or dedicated team work areas, don’t require large structural changes, bigger changes are planned for the years to come. For instance, some workplace managers think about creating internal coworking spaces for their employees with shared desks and large collaborative spaces. Other companies pursue the same idea with the goal in mind of allowing external users access as well.

Man talking on his phone in a cozy corner
Dedicated spaces in the office for calls, meetings and deep work are necessary for a successful hybrid model.


7. Trust is key

Admittedly, this is not a new insight. However, the pandemic has forced managers to trust their employees more and our interviewees have confirmed that productivity has not suffered due to working from home more frequently. Improved performance management and monitoring tools still allow for the appropriate amount of control. Altogether, it can be said that one of the most required leadership qualities will be trust in one’s team.


8. Cost reductions are real

Next to office analytics and redesigns, the change towards a hybrid work model also brings along cost reductions in the long run. Some of the office managers we talked to have already cancelled their office leases and switched to a better suited office space. Many also consider the reduction of office footprint, which some companies have succeeded in by up to 40%. The cost reductions obviously depend on the type of hybrid model implemented and the desk ratio decided on, which in most cases falls in between 0.3 desks per FTE and 0.8 desks per FTE.

Woman working on her laptop at a big wooden table with empty chairs
Reducing the number of empty chairs in one's office will become a key challenge and opportunity for workplace managers.


9. Companies will gain a competitive (employer) advantage

The war for talent is on and becoming more intense every day. A hybrid working model does not only allow companies to access a bigger talent pool by increasing the geographical source range, but also increases its employee retention and employer attractivity. This is especially true for Gen Z with 92% of millennials naming flexibility as their top priority when picking a job (Source: Capability Jane). As can be seen, hybrid working is not only a topic for current, but also for future employees.

10. Hybrid ought to be planned

Hybrid work is the buzzword of the year for workplace managers. With its wide ranging impact for every single employee, the transition to a hybrid working model ought to be well planned and executed in order not to become a flop. Since the shift requires a lot of effort, but also experience and knowledge, deskbird is here to help. Visit our product page or contact our team to get started with your hybrid workplace!

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