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The future of the office after Corona: we need office branding measures!

Some offices are orphaned. How many employees are actually going back to their jobs? (Photo: Who is Danny / Shutterstock)

According to a study by the consulting firm Ernst & Young from May 2021, more than three quarters of the Office workers the home office. After the obligation to work from home was abolished on July 1st, its introduction is now being debated again. Sooner or later, however, the office will come back into our focus and then the following questions will arise: Is it possible to continue working from home and, if so, on how many days a week? Finding an ideal balance between the old normal and the extremely pronounced flexibility due to the pandemic has so far been difficult in many companies.

The office is far from dead

At Haufe Tax & Tax Consultants, around 80 percent of employees want to keep their home office in the long term. But we had to quickly find out: There can be no binding and uniform rule. The flexibility, which we have come to appreciate more in recent months, would immediately be a thing of the past with fixed rules regarding work locations and times – and we would not have taken anything positive from the pandemic. If instead the individual teams take responsibility for how often and from where they want to work, this not only ensures increased flexibility, but also greater satisfaction.

What works for one department does not necessarily have to be good for others. Rather, it needs guidelines that leave room for individual design. Each team can therefore define its own guidelines for the place of work and core working hours. Some team members need more flexibility than others.

Despite all the flexibility, the question arises from an economic point of view: If it is possible to work from anywhere, are the offices doomed then? Yes. At least if they fail to take on a new role in the hybrid, new world of work. That does not have to be that way.

Pub evening effect: when coincidences encourage innovation

In the future, offices should be understood more as event locations: You have to constantly offer something new so that people can continue to enjoy coming to the office. The office also has advantages – they just have to be communicated much more explicitly. Perhaps it will be increasingly possible to even log into other offices on a daily basis. A classic change of scenery that not only encourages creativity, but also makes the best possible use of available space. Companies will make their work space available to others for rent, other companies may give up their office space and use third-party space instead.

In the long term, it should It is not about just carrying your own computer from one place to another and continuing to work where you left off somewhere else. Office branding measures, similar to employer branding measures, are also required for companies. Everyone should be clear about what they are coming to the office for. “To work” shouldn’t (always) be the first answer. In order to maintain the attractiveness of employees being able to stay at home to work, exchange formats are required.

People need direct exchange. Innovations and ideas arise from chance encounters. We have to enable unplanned encounters, force coincidences and give creativity the space it needs! We also call it the “pub night effect”. Only through unforeseeable encounters, unforeseeable conversations do we come up with new impulses and thoughts.

Not everything can work digitally

Spontaneous social interactions that arise out of the moment cannot be transferred to the remote world without losses. By eliminating this pub evening effect in the remote working world, an already efficient machine is apparently made even more efficient: After all, everything that is even remotely “hallway radio” or that could rob you of concentration suddenly disappears. There are no functioning digital variants for this time at the table football that is not spent on professional topics, randomly dropping by colleagues or having a joint after-work drink. At least we haven’t found a satisfactory alternative for ourselves so far. The attempt to translate our common “Beer Friday” into the virtual world was only accepted by a maximum of three of the otherwise 20+ participants.

Ultimately, the consequence of an appropriately designed organization is that it develops deficits in other areas. I am convinced that a 100 percent remote company is unattractive in the long term. Nor do I endorse a rule that commands everyone back to the office.

Make sense of office days: Fancy a campfire or a pub?

Instead, we should define campfire and pub days. For a meaningful discussion, everyone should be in one place – either everyone in the office or everyone remotely. On such campfire days, you meet at a fixed date and discuss certain items on the agenda with previously defined participants. At Haufe Tax & Tax Consultants, for example, we introduced them to discuss particularly important and urgent matters in one place. On the one hand, there is transparency about who will be present and, on the other hand, there is certainty about what you are going to the office for. Of course, a social exchange can also take place on site – the focus, however, is on finding solutions together.

Pub days, on the other hand, are days when where it is clear that you meet people in the office, but you do not know exactly who is meeting. The focus here is not on an agenda or a fixed meeting, but on social exchange. The main idea is that it can be fun on site. There is intentionally left time for unplanned interactions and the creation of new, spontaneous ideas.

What is clear: employees must have a sense of the way Be clear in the office, otherwise they will be reluctant to commute (this is also clear in the Ernst & Young study). In order for the offices to have any chance of survival at all, there should be a mixture of the formats suggested above and additional office branding measures in the future. By the way, I would be happy to receive further inspiration for the latter!

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Sallie Anderson
Sallie works as the Writer at World Weekly News. She likes to write about the latest trends going on in our world and share it with our readers.

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