How the unprecedented work from home experiment would alter the future of work

How the unprecedented work from home experiment would alter the future of work

The recent shift towards remote working has caused some disturbance for many companies since we have been accustomed to working in traditional office space. While, some companies are inadequately equipped with the necessary tools and equipment to work remotely. Due to Covid-19, various countries in the APAC region such as Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, India have implemented varying degrees of nationwide lockdown and social distancing to curtail the coronavirus. Correspondingly, to ensure business continuity, most enterprises have initiated work from home policy for their employees. This was rather unprecedented for many corporations who are used to the traditional office space model. In the midst of the doom and gloom of the Covid-19 situation, let’s explore some possible changes to the future of work as a result of this pandemic outbreak.

Paradigm shift

Businesses would have a refreshed perspective on flexible work arrangements. As firms experience remote working from home first hand, they would discover the perks and downsides of such arrangements. There would be two extreme ends of the spectrum. One side in favour of remote working, while the other which prefers to work in an office environment. There would also be in-betweens who would like to have a certain degree of flexibility for remote working.

Since nobody is certain on the duration for this outbreak, this work from home experiment could last for a month, three months and even longer. In the short term run, occupiers would put a hold on their office space requirement as they reassess their short term overheads and liabilities to safeguard themselves under this changing financial situation worldwide. From a longer term perspective, we foresee that corporations would begin to embrace the notion of remote working. Thus, demand for traditional office model may be substituted by a need for more open common areas and shared co-working space. This would give employers the flexibility of lease term to minimise their short term overheads and employees greater freedom to work from anywhere. However, there would still be some portion of space dedicated for private office space that caters to firms that requires a more traditional office setup.

As such, employers would reassess the nature of their business to determine if remote working is suitable for them along with the cost benefit implications involved.

Digital transformation

During this period, there has been a rapid adaptation of video and chat software to enable businesses to maintain some semblance of normal operations. Collaboration tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google’s G Suite were used to allow office employees to coordinate their work remotely at home. The unexpected Covid-19 outbreak has forced many firms and corporations to adopt new technology in their business operations. This digital transformation is something beneficial to many enterprises since most companies are usually resistant to the adaptation of new technology before this epidemic.

From a flexible office space perspective, there are also some enhancement in the use technology in light of this outbreak. Some providers such as The Executive Centre and Bridge plus have introduced virtual tours for potential new members to allow them to better visualise their flexible office space. This would be a step forward for this industry.

The digitalisation of workplace and work processes would pick up speed during this period of time and continue to take place. We foresee an increase in internet bandwidth for many firms as well as IT racks. Also, IT security would become increasing important as companies transit towards remote working. Additionally, there might be an upscaling of their IT infrastructure to support employees working remotely.

Wellness for office workers

After the world emerges from this pandemic, there would be a positive impact on the built environment. People would have greater awareness and concern about disease transmission. This may lead to larger emphasis on wellness for office workers.

Firstly, indoor air quality could be an aspect for consideration to minimise the risk of exposure to disease transmission. Companies may decide to invest in better mechanical air filtration systems. Thus, minimising the spread of certain airborne diseases. The demand for better designed mechanical ventilation systems would soar with this Covid-19 aftermath.

Simultaneously, touchless technology and sensor technology would see a surge in demand for future building design. Certain flexible office space providers in Singapore have already begin the use of touchless technology such using mobile apps for touchless entry to tenant suite doors and elevators. Currently, Bridge plus  uses mobile apps that integrates QR code for a touchless entry. Other coworking providers which uses mobile apps for entry access includes Ucommune and Distrii.

Lastly, let’s look at office design. There might be a shift in the fashionableness for open plan office design. We might see a resurgence on the use of more physical barriers to minimise the spread of germs under an open office floorplan. The above changes would enable employees to work in a healthier and less disease borne environment.

Change in the way businesses think

This unprecedented work from home experiment would make us realise the suitability of remote working for our respective sectors and industries. The future of work would continue to revolve around greater flexibility for remote working under the current financial climate. Businesses would undergo a period of digital transformation and there would be increased emphasis for employees wellbeing though the built environment.