Covid-19 has changed the way we work forever. So, what does this mean for the future of office working?
We’re seeing a variety approaches as businesses look to the future of office working in a post-pandemic world. Large corporates such as Salesforce, Facebook, Google and Amazon, are settling on the hybrid work model. Others such as the bank Standard Chartered are allowing their employees to choose where they work and some are taking the opportunity to reduce overheads, like Swedish fintech group Klarna, who is moving its London HQ to a serviced office.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated a more pronounced shift to remote working and set in motion some long-lasting changes for businesses of all sizes when it comes to the future of office working.
According to Eurofound’s Living, Working and COVID-19 survey, an online survey initiated in April 2020 in EU countries, the number of homeworkers had more than doubled by July 2020 following the pandemic. Over a third (39%) of employees indicated working from home, compared to 20% who worked from home pre-COVID-19 and by June/July 2020, this figure had increased to 48%. This was especially elevated in Nordic countries, Benelux and also in the UK, where the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that 46.6% of employed people worked from home in April 2020.
Many embraced the flexibility that working from home brings offering an improved work/life balance. However, the negative impact of the isolation of homeworking has also taken its toll. Surprisingly, it appears that employers have some catching up to do when it comes to mental health provision. The Littler European Employer Covid-19 Survey Report in September 2020 found that fewer than a third of employers are providing wellbeing packages and mental health services to those experiencing feelings of isolation and anxiety.
At SHUFL, as well as partnering with hospitality venues, we also work with corporates and co-working spaces bringing the benefits of the inclusive game of shuffleboard to the workplace. The new normal will see many of us taking a hybrid approach to remote and office-based working in a bid to embrace the best of both, which means workspaces will have to evolve to facilitate the kind of interactions that can’t happen remotely.
Says SHUFL European marketing manager Samantha Catford: “Companies asking their employees to work from home most or all of the time need to be mindful of how they can contribute to wellbeing. It may be that they provide regional hubs or buy into co-working spaces to alleviate the isolation of no longer being in an office environment and allow people to retain that valuable social interaction or the water cooler moment.”
We’re already seeing the rise of co-working hubs in cities across Europe where it’s usual to have creative breakout areas where workers can connect and come together and this is set to continue. The serviced offices provider WeWork are expecting occupancy of its workspaces to increase by 70% by the end of 2021.
A great example of this kind of space is a new Oslo venue that we’re supplying our shuffleboard tables to. Telegrafen is a ground-breaking new venue combining leisure, social and business that feels like the future of working. It’s one step on from the existing city-centre co-working spaces and embraces a new way of working and networking, offering a premium environment where you can eat, drink, play AND work with meeting rooms, event spaces, themed bars and restaurants.
While this is the case for businesses who are asking their employees to work almost exclusively from home, the alternative scenario is organisations looking to support their employees’ return to the office after months of working from home. They are now having to re-evaluate their set-up and examine how they smooth the transition for employees by reducing any anxiety and reconnecting teams.
Says Sam: “It feels like offices will have to adapt to raise their game and meet the need for human connection, which people just haven’t been getting in the last year.»
“We already supply shuffleboards to offices in Europe and there are lots of reasons why companies choose to do this. It might be that they want to provide a playful space for meetings and brainstorms to boost productivity; to make it part of an employee wellbeing or mental health provision package, encouraging people to take a break from their desks; or just add a fun, informal element to the workplace to bring colleagues together.
“We definitely see this as being a growth area as employers look for ways to relieve stress and anxiety, bring teams back together and help them adjust to the new normal.”
Find out more about how shuffleboard can be part of a corporate wellbeing package or a flexible workspace offer here.