And what happens next?
The good old days are booming at the moment. Especially now that we’re confronted with an onslaught of new and unexpected situations, people are wallowing in memories of how things used to be. “Back in the times when we used to see each other every day at the office…” you’ll hear quite a few sigh from their home offices … and they might even look back on their office experience from an idealised perspective. As things stand, the working week as we know it might not even exist in future. Is that surprising? Not really.
The switch to mobile working has been looming for quite a while. Back in 2016 it was clear from studies that employees prefer a workspace and environment with digital tools that allow greater freedom. We looked at a study conducted four years ago by Penn Schoen Berland PSB, in which 3801 online interviews were conducted in nine different markets such as the USA, Brazil, Japan, France, India and South Africa. The results are unambiguous – the desire for a technical workspace that allows remote working was already there: “44% of employees worldwide feel that their workspace isn’t smart enough, while more than half (57%) expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years.” (…) Younger employees in particular were already demanding appropriate conditions quite clearly: “Millennials are more willing to use AR/VR products (77%), more likely to say remote work allows for a healthier work-life balance (36%), more likely to say the workspace is becoming more collaborative (79%), and more likely to quit a job with substandard technology (42%).”
To gauge current opinion, we not only surveyed our own team members, we also questioned our business associates. We have a close relationship with our long-standing customers, so we’re happy to share recent insights provided by Otto and Dentsu Aegis Network with you today.
Most of the employees at Otto would prefer not to return to the “old workplace” and would like to work from home at least part-time even once the pandemic is over. This was the result of a survey conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering involving employees of Otto and the Otto Group Holding. At the moment more than 90 per cent of them are working on a mobile basis, in some areas it’s even as high as 100 per cent. It’s true that many of those would like to come back into the office again as soon as possible, but not every day anymore. Otto is already reacting to this by starting to make directional decisions.
We will say goodbye to a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. attendance rhythm.
Irene Oksinoglu, Head of Project Future Work at Otto: “(The results) confirm quite clearly that we will not be returning to the workplace as we knew it just a year ago. In fact the opposite is true: we will be saying goodbye to the classic office environment with its familiar desk-based culture and a rhythm involving attendance from Monday to Friday, nine to five. Instead we will become dependent on individual factors, private life circumstances and the job being done, taking into account multiple locations both at the office and remotely. The office becomes an integrated site encompassing diverse opportunities for work and personal encounters – for all to use. At the same time it’s the central anchor for identification with the corporate culture – and will remain so in future.”
At international marketing agency Dentsu Aegis Network they are certain too: “The significance of the classic workspace in the office is sure to decline, and the same applies to the significance of traditional-style face-to-face meetings involving less complex themes.” Daniel Ahrens, head of the Finance Division at the Dentsu Aegis Network, can see that remote working is a success one year after the pandemic started – thanks to the well-rehearsed use of digital tools. But what people are missing is the spontaneous exchanges: “… anything unplanned, informal is being neglected – however in my view these things are key to continued success.”
In contrast to the results suggested by the study, acceptance levels of remote working is less a matter of belonging to certain age groups and more to do with personal life circumstances or the employee’s job remit. Over the past five years, they have already been adapting offices in their own company to make sure they are future-compatible. This includes a focus on health as one aspect of a sustainable influence on society and the environment.
“The added value that a future office environment needs to offer lies in the provision of additional solutions for complex problems, working as a team and also with business partners. Not insignificantly, it’s the responsibility of the office, the company, to showcase its values and culture to foster identity and loyalty.”
Not insignificantly, it’s the responsibility of the office, to foster identity and loyalty.
We can support you with any questions relating to the changing workplace: would you like to create an office environment that reflects your work culture and communicates your values? We’d love to help you, using our K+N WORK.CULTURE.MAP consulting tool. Would you like to take advantage of this opportunity and redesign your workspaces and offices now to make sure you’re ready to face the new challenges? If so, talk to us. We look forward to sharing our expertise and design ideas with you.
We were inspired to write this article:
OKSINOGLU, IRENE (2021), Unsere Arbeitswelt in Post-Pandemie-Zeiten, 01.02.2021, https://www.otto.de/newsroom/de/kultur/umfrage-arbeitswelt-corona-pandemie?fbclid=IwAR2TPG4mjcERN29-3oiQuK1cQ1TWJVtpCpkU9vAHQVWiHIfDXtqZkELchVM, last access: 16.02.2021
BERTRAM, INGO (2021), OTTO-Umfrage: Mehrheit der Beschäftigten will dauerhaft mehr mobil arbeiten, 02.02.2021, https://www.otto-newsroom.de/unternehmen/de/news-presse/otto-umfrage-future-work-mehrheit-will-mobil-arbeiten, last access: 16.02.2021
Personal interview with Daniel Ahrens, 10.02.2021
Dell & Intel Future Workforce Study, Research conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, 2016.