Future of Working: The ‘New Normal’ doesn’t exist

Work from anywhere

Emboldened by the last year and more of remote working, many companies are embracing a ‘work from anywhere’ option-whether the office, home, a co-working space, or anywhere around the world. It’s a popular option. Most people, when polled, aren’t keen to go back to the office full time, and companies are keenly exploring how they might broaden their talent pool by including more locations.

Back to the office

The prospect of being fully remote has caused some companies to be concerned about the development of more junior employees, and the importance of physical interactions in the maintenance of client relationships. Many investment banks are expecting employees back in the office as soon as possible as remote working is not yet seen as a natural cultural fit by the senior staff of many of these organisations.

Flexible days

Famously pro-office Apple recently put forward a structured approach to hybrid working. Where pre-pandemic the company had actively discouraged remote working, the new policy asked for employees to return to the office three days a week, to try to safeguard its culture and the bonds between teams.

  • That it allows teams to decide what location or model is best for their work
  • A company-wide survey on the subject
  • To ask about the impact of the policy in exit interviews
  • An action plan to accommodate disabilities in different locations
  • An examination of the environmental impact of location-policy

Other models

Of course, the office, remote, and splitting the difference aren’t the only options. Companies like Google are reimagining how their employees work and live by building ‘company towns’ complete with new residential housing, retail premises and other amenities. This isn’t new — Cadbury’s did similar, over 100 years ago, motivated by Quaker sensibilities and the pursuit of better living conditions. These new company towns are built on less altruistic beliefs. With employees dependent on the company in every aspect of their lives, it could create a problematic power imbalance that affects support and social structures, as well as blurring boundaries between home and work to a new level.

Where do we go from here?

Technology has given us a greater range of choices than we have ever had before, but employers hadn’t always considered remote work to be amongst the viable choices. With the pandemic forcing many businesses into going remote at the same time, many of the typical barriers and challenges disappeared. The next choice we make will be harder, because each organisation will make that choice for themselves.

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We’re an independent innovation and transformation consultancy helping our clients make progress.