A Rude Awakening for Business Dinosaurs
Organisations large and small are finally facing a workstyle future that should have been obvious years ago. A shame it’s taken a global pandemic for it to occur.
An entire working generation has lived through decades of office expansion. It’s been a property developer’s wet dream of perpetual construction to the soundtrack of pneumatic drills and the manoeuvrings of heavy plant, whilst frazzled workers trudged disconsolately towards their offices.
Technologies like Zoom and others have been around for years, struggling to become established as the preferred way to meet and collaborate.
Cynics will say that business heavyweights choosing to spend endless hours at the office, in search of promotion and success, begrudged junior colleagues flexible working options.
C-suite directors rubber-stamping eye-watering property commitments meant they needed to see those offices filled to the gunnels with compliant workers, regardless of the levels of employee motivation.
So has this dystopian reality come to an end, and will those same leaders readily agree that home and flexible working actually leads to a growth in productivity? Recent reports seem to suggest they will.
Fifty of the biggest UK employers questioned by BBC have said they have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future.
It seems unlikely that organisations will simply ‘write-off’ the costs of large office deals, but external pressures will be twisting many arms up backs, forcing a re-evaluation of the way we all work.
Flexible working will save employees a fortune. Less travel, fuel, and car parking costs. No need to buy so many clothes, no more £5 plus per day lunches from the sandwich bar, or £3 coffees from Costa and Starbucks.
Conversely empty real estate means someone is losing out. The sandwich bars and local dry cleaners will suffer. The train, bus, and associated travel businesses will see a drop in revenues.
Do the environmental, lifestyle and mental health benefits outweigh the cost to the economy?
One thing's for sure, the business dinosaurs and property developers won’t do down without a fight, so I don’t think we can predict the death of the office just yet.