Originally published March 2021.
Free hugs? I know it sounds incredible, but there was a time when they were available in public spaces! As we all plan our post-lockdown freedom, inevitably we question ‘What will our workplace look like?’ McKinsey has just released The Future of Work after Covid-19. It is definitely worth looking at, as a lot of thought and research has, as you would expect, gone into this and, importantly, it does draw conclusions.
Covid has taught us to use technology better, and in that sense we have found more freedom and flexibility. We have adapted and embraced existing technologies faster than we imagined. Consequently, we will probably accept new offerings more readily. In short, we have probably moved forward seven years in seven months – in what I have called a ‘great acceleration’.
However, I believe it is too early to talk of the death of the office as our workplace. Let’s face it: covid has made us think about a lot of things. Certainly, one is that we were using office space inefficiently. One desk per person is generous. Research shows many offices were running at 70% or lower occupation at any one time.
The Office for National Statistics has told us that its research before covid concluded 6% of us were working from home all the time and many more part-time. We found this in my previous business; we changed to a more agile working arrangement and, in my view, created a much better and more productive environment and happily reduced costs in the process. Coincidentally, it meant we were more prepared for home-working in the first lockdown.