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  • Office workers will look back at 2020

  • as something of a tipping point in the world of work.

  • Largely, workers proved to their employers

  • that they could get their jobs done from home.

  • So what does the future hold for the office?

  • 80% of people who worked from home during the lockdown

  • say they'd like to continue working at least one day from home

  • in the future.

  • Meanwhile two out of three of us

  • say that we're longing to return to the office in some form.

  • In other words, we want to have our cake and eat it.

  • We want the best parts of the office

  • and the best parts of working from home.

  • The workplace property expert Antony Slumbers

  • said no firm ever wanted an office,

  • they wanted productive employees

  • and the office was just one way to create that.

  • Over the last few years,

  • many companies had moved to open-plan offices.

  • Well the promise was that we would be let loose

  • in vast workplace savannahs,

  • free to meet and bounce ideas off each other.

  • In fact, open-plan offices tended to make us feel

  • like we were constantly interrupted

  • and unable to get anything done.

  • We've realised offices are good for some things.

  • The office had something called 'a network effect'.

  • So it's chance encounters,

  • bumping into colleagues and sharing thoughts just casually,

  • that we're finding so difficult to replace.

  • And there seems to be some pretty good evidence

  • that our best 'aha' moments happen in these chance encounters.

  • Professor Sandy Pentland from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • says the reason why these conversations are so effective

  • is that these are the moments that we don't find ourselves

  • supervised by our bosses,

  • we feel free to have honest discussions.

  • So if the office was good for a few things

  • and the top one - chatting to colleagues -

  • is the one we're struggling to replace,

  • what's the answer?

  • Maybe your firm will join something that's starting to be called

  • the TW and T Revolution,

  • where workers work from the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

  • but from home on Mondays and Fridays.

  • And no doubt, in time, someone will come with a catchy name

  • for people who work like this.

  • Other firms are being still more adventurous,

  • saying they want to free up workers to do their work

  • whenever they feel most productive.

  • They're adopting what's being known as asynchronous working.

  • When we do something synchronously it means we're coordinated in time,

  • like the swimmers at the Olympics.

  • Asynchronous work says,

  • 'how about we allow people to give their feedback or their ideas

  • whenever they're feeling most inspired?'

  • Companies who do this

  • say it allows workers the flexibility to take their kids to school

  • or even do leisure activities

  • and this is what the asynchronous working firms believe

  • will attract the best workers to come to work for them.

  • Expect to hear a lot more of the word 'hybrid'.

  • At the more adventurous end of hybrid,

  • some firms are even talking about only getting their employees together

  • one week a quarter.

  • Meaning that, almost certainly, they don't need an office.

  • ...for many office workers, the era of getting up every day

  • and going to the same place seems to be a thing of the past.

  • And the question is...

  • ... will you miss it?

Office workers will look back at 2020

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B1 office adventurous hybrid home workplace productive

Will office life ever be the same again? | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/01
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