The lock down is lifted, curfew removed, no work from home advisory, business activities can resume in a phased manner. No, this is not an announcement nor a prediction; but surely this will happen, hopefully sooner rather than later.
How do we see the office work happening in the post covid period where no vaccine is yet available, hot spots of infection still remain and the threat of second wave of infection still looms large. How will work habits change? How will office designs change? Will we see the same number of staff back in office? What is going to be the impact on shared office space sector - informally called the co working industry? Will the business meeting and training activity be as usual?
WORK FROM HOME – Fait Accompli
The current situation has brought to the Center stage the concept of Work From Home, which was often brushed aside disdainfully as being relevant only for the Working Mothers and the Self Employed. It has probably become the next most used phrase after Corona Virus in the Business world. Even the staunchest of its critics now acknowledge that it is here to stay.
While many aspects of the work cannot be done in the home environment, the fear factor in traveling by the suburban train, or metro, or by ride share cabs in proximity with other commuters of whom you are not sure, if carrying the covid-19 virus, will force employers to look at options that do not mandate the workforce to come to office.
On the other side, as most would be experiencing, Work from Home has serious issues like unreliable internet speeds & connectivity, IT security issues, telecom network issues, power failure, disturbances from background sounds from kitchen, dog barking, infant bawling and many more.
WORK NEAR HOME – The new normal
Work Near Home replicates the real office environment by eliminating the issues in work from home as highlighted above. It is in your neighbourhood, or at least where you don't have to take a public transport to reach. It can be accessed by your personal transport - walking, cycling, your bike or your car - no exposure to the crowds in the train or metro. The space has the concept of social distancing incorporated in its layout and design (more on that later), adheres to the mandated safety and hygiene standards certified by experts in the field. It has high quality infra - IT, power supply and back up, security, maintenance and housekeeping. It is probably an existing Co Working operator setting up in your neighbourhood, or even a new entrepreneur sensing a new opportunity.
One would say that the flip side to Work Near Home would be that tasks that require collaboration, reviews or supervision would not be possible. But trust the apps like Zoom, Skype, Uber Conference, Jibble etc to make it possible. Work from home during the lock down has already demonstrated the power and capabilities of such platforms. In person meetings / trainings will become infrequent and, when needed, will take place in well spread out seating layout. Get ready to see 20 people in a 40 seater hall. In the post covid era, Work Near Home has the potential to improve workforce engagement by addressing the health and safety concerns, saving travel time and cost and thereby improving enterprise productivity and reducing employee turnover.
About the author: Mandeep Bakshi is the founder of the pioneering OfficingNow – The Online Hypermarket of Workspaces and Related Services, where enterprises and working professionals can get all their Office Workspace Solutions on a single platform operable from multiple devices.