Since the 1980s, many digital, physical and technological revolutions have changed the way offices function. From the dismantling of the cubical-organisational structure to the mainstream integration of work practices from the high-tech industry, there have been frequent transformations in the office space However, the changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are different.
Digital tools such as email, MS Suite, Google Docs, video conferencing, virtual tables and chat channels have never been more critical than now. These and many other e-tools have changed the relationship between employees and employers irreversibly and perhaps for good.
More importantly, the pandemic collapsed and changed the conventional definition of an office. For 2020 and 2021, new entrants to the digital workplace could only virtually interact with their partners and employers. So, the question is – has this virtual induction impacted their workplace experience, and if it has, in what way?
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented opening for countless businesses, large and small, to think about the importance of their physical presence, proximity and location in business planning.
To answer these questions, let’s look into the critical and somewhat philosophical question- has the pandemic transformed the office forever?
Due to the current increase in COVID-19 cases, most of the Indian workforce will continue to work remotely for most of 2021. At the same time, millions of people from all over India are entering their workplaces and have inadvertently become the harbingers of an entirely new form of work culture.
Pandemic and Work from Home Challenges
Managers and employees have been trying to work with the remote world situation ever since the Coronavirus outbreak hit the entire world. They are trying new ways to integrate long-term work in the new format to benefit from a transformed office space. But even before the pandemic, physical and virtual working conditions had innumerable problems.
While remote work has given companies access to a larger talent pool that is, location aspect – possibly at a lower cost – training newer employees has been far from easy. Team motivation and communication are also strongly affected when working from home. Organisations face challenges like poor communication, low reliability and network security issues.
Although the before mentioned digital tools claim to enhance the physical workspace by improving communication, they can (and have) undermine office culture by reducing the face-to-face encounters that open-plan layouts purport to promote.
Hybrid Workplace for Indian Start-Ups Post Pandemic
While there are, undoubtedly, many obstacles for companies, working from home also helps them avoid obstacles such as logistics costs, back-office staff, management, and office working costs. It also increases productivity and reduces labour costs.
Companies also realise that companies could use the money saved by remote work to improve and grow their business market and efficacy via new channels. If there are no restrictions on the job through companies micromanagement of employees, employees tend to be way more creative. Besides, group building activities such as birthday cake cutting, meals, coffee breaks and portfolio events are replaced with virtual coffee and chat sessions in this new model.
Work from Home Might Stick Around Longer than Intended
In the view of many new start-ups, there is no reason why a company cannot adapt to the remote work culture in the future unless physical presence is necessary. Moreover, it might take at least two to three years for everybody to get vaccinated and feel comfortable going into crowded places and office spaces. By then, transformed office spaces and work from home will have become a way of life.
As the situation stands currently, companies will likely have to make their employees work remotely. And this practice has undoubtedly transformed the office spaces forever. Whether or not businesses go back entirely to the conventional office spaces after the pandemic recede remains to be seen in the future.