re the companies you work with excited by the hybrid model? For most of them it feels like having your cake and eating it.
I’m working with one big retailer who’s saying, “We’re embarrassed by how traditional our culture has been and this is the moment to do something new.”
But in general, I think the more male-dominated a company, the more likely they are to ask workers to come back five days a week.
What does the future of work look like?
I think we’ll also see the rise of a third space, with people working near home but maybe not at home. I know of a big bank which is creating hubs for colleagues to come together or rotate in and out of. There’s a phenomenon coming from America where firms expand and contract their space in the building on different days of the week. So you might have an all-hands meeting on Thursday, and the rest of the week just rent a few co-working desks or an events space as and when.
What are some potential problems with the hybrid?
I think the legal implications could be quite complex. One of the biggest advertising groups has said that only managers are expected to be in every day. But if you’re an ambitious twenty-something with no responsibilities you might think, “I’ll look more eager and enthusiastic if I come in every day” and you might well be at a bit of an advantage when it comes to promotion time. In the US, some firms are ahead of this and are actually banning employees from coming in on the days they’re not expected to.
What’s your ideal work set up?
I work from home when I’m not consulting but I absolutely love going into the office. When I think back to my time in the office it didn’t matter how overworked I was or how stressed I was, if I could have a laugh with colleagues then I thought I’d had a great day. Your colleagues are like your mates — you don’t need to see them every day but you do need to see them. It’s that togetherness we’ve all missed.
You’ve worked in some amazing offices, which ones stick out for you?
Often the places with the big slides or the nap pods or the meeting rooms decked out like the Starship Enterprise haven’t got the best culture. They might look cool on social media but that’s it. I think the most successful companies now will be the ones which create the places we’ve longed for — a kind of town square to have a chat and meet up — but also the new areas we now need, like a library where people can get their heads down and do quiet work or cubicles to do video calls. Smart firms will be thinking, “What can we do to make it worth our employees making the journey into the office for?”
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