If you look back over the past 100 years, the original purpose of an office was where the boss was, where people where managed in a controlled environment, a place where communications happened, and meetings were held. A place where resources and tools were provided and in return employees got their jobs done, and you saw them working. But this no longer seems relevant to most organizations, the way they want to work, and more importantly, how employees want to work.
The return to the office debate is really in vogue right now! For many it’s a fixation and a constant source of communication; and while a handful of businesses have progressed with a remote-first policy, most have tried to create a hybrid working experience, where workers are not tied to a physical workplace and can carry out tasks from multiple locations.
The flexibility and work-life balance offered by home working has proven to be more successful than most people imagined: and we have seen that home working has been found to provide a better workplace experience than the average office.
But there is a catch. The reduced social dimensions work brings such as informal interactions and the ability to feel connected to colleagues and the organization, materializes an emergence of a progressive deterioration of an organization’s social fabric.
IDC’s research shows that roughly 1 out of 3 organizations saw the initial improvement in team productivity diminish over time as employees increasingly suffer from digital fatigue and loss of corporate culture.
Unsurprisingly 41% of organizations are now promoting programs and policies to voluntarily bring as many workers back on site as possible to enhance collaboration and maintain corporate culture.
IDC estimates that in Western Europe over 70% of employees will work at least one day per week from an office in 2023 (IDC Return to the Office Forecast).
Today, we are seeing the idea of an office take on a very different shape, which in turn is posing a dilemma for business and leads us to asking the question: what is the purpose of the office?
There are probably three main reasons for why offices exist.
This leads us to ask whether organizations should increase the ‘social’ aspect of their physical workplace? If people focus better at home, is it logical to turn the office into a place meant exclusively for bringing people together, collaboration and free-flowing exchange of ideas?
With each organization on its own unique path and no one strategy working for every organization, it is vital for organizations to understand how big of a role collaboration plays for employees within their business, and the longer-term success of the organization itself.
Acknowledging the importance of the office, companies are realizing they need to take a fresh approach to their workplace strategy and align their work facilities accordingly. Considering the work paradigm shift of the last three years, the workplace has not kept pace. IDC data suggests that many offices designed in pre-pandemic times are not fit for the purpose of hybrid work.
If collaboration is now at the center of workplace strategy, organizations are challenged with providing the necessary tools to enable the best possible collaboration in the office as well as facilitating best-in-class interactions between in-office workers and remote employees and customers.
Given the importance of collaboration for overall employee experience and the impact that audio can have in meetings, reconfiguring collaboration spaces to build the right employee experience is now critical. Failure to do so can lead to decreased employee experience, staff burnout and missed opportunities. As such, IDC observes that investments aimed at enhancing hybrid meetings through audio quality can lead to tangible business outcomes.