The way to do work has changed enormously over last few weeks, however let’s not extrapolate anything from this temporary situation imposed by Covid -19 epidemic. We all had been scrambling to find whatever method to be productive and participating in work activities. This is a temporary phase and we all need to accept that. Making long term decisions with respect to work environment based on prevailing conditions is definitely not prudent. But at the same time not to apply the lessons learnt from this enforced change will also be considered as deliberately being negligent.
In reality, nature of doing our work has been in flux over last 4 to 5 years and it has been transforming at a rapid rate. Our aspiration to enjoy both work and life to the fullest is on the rise, we seek to transition from one mode to another spontaneously and in seamless manner.
The solo working which we are experiencing right now has a number of limitations. Most importantly it is hard to foster creativity and well-being in solo environment. Over the years the businesses have gained tremendously by connecting individuals to teams and by erasing boundaries. Not only the productivity gains, but this approach has helped individuals to develop social connections and hence social life which in turn helped to keep their mental state in optimum shape. After all, humans are social animals and we seek out company and companionship of others as part of our well-being.
Of-course, today’s technology has ensured the work is no longer constrained by place and time. But as corporate managers, we have learnt that an enjoyable work environment drives the motivation and plays a significant role to make work happen. Engendering focus and concentration is a challenge all businesses face. A recent research reveals that in a typical day, where there is no structured guidance, workers switch tasks every 3 minutes, get interrupted every 11 minutes, and take up to 23 minutes to get back on task. Finding a flow of attention and focus seems to be nearly impossible given the distractions all around us.
Although solo working may seem an answer to this, however with so many gadgets in our reach, uncontrolled noises and sounds and with no prompts to get us back into the flow tend to have even worst outcome. Often we are working together to deliver on projects, unmanageable distractions faced by different team members at different times can be quite detrimental to the outcomes we expect. Sharing ideas from isolation and judging other persons reactions, reading in between lines are not ideal in remote settings. However these aspects have been foundation of success for many businesses.
On the contrary there are times where solo working is crucial to certain outcomes however it is still dependant on how conducive and well planned is the work environment.
Well established office setting prevents visual distractions and can control external stimuli. Workers have a better chance of getting back into flow faster given the team environment and able to get timely and spontaneous interaction where required. Optimised office setting also provides enhanced sense of psychological security where privacy and social interactions are seamlessly blended. Impromptu meetings take up significant time and in some instances even more than 50% of time, to not to make this time profitable can be detrimental to economic success of any organisation.
The evolution in building and corporate offices design has not been less than any other technological advancements. Workers’ comfort, accessibility, ergonomic equipment and furniture, optimised lighting has all played part in helping workers to rise above the challenges and being more creative and productive. Unique and inspiring working environments are entrenched deep into business’ culture and brand identity and success relies on this.
Corona-virus epidemic has absolutely turned everything upside down in the short-term. I am sure design architects are already considering how social distancing can be implemented in corporate working environments without losing the freedom which fosters creativity and enhances productivity. Same goes with the property services businesses, there will be a whole lot of different set of services required to ensure the spaces are hygienic and sanitised on a regular basis.
But one thing is clear, we as humans need working environments which stimulate us to shape our thoughts, behaviours and abilities for decision making. Big and small businesses have benefited by investing into creating environments where we can enjoy work and life to the fullest.