Is decision making moving online from meeting rooms?
The open office floorplan was supposed to be a revolutionary innovation to improve communication and interactions in a knowledge-driven workplace. In truth open offices have reduced interaction up to 70% in some studies, when people use noise-cancelling headphones and digital workplace solutions to escape the “office space of 21st century”.
In light of recent events, open offices seem like a bad idea in terms of spreading infectious diseases, even future pandemics. They have been widely criticized among employees also for noise, distractions and inability to concentrate. The pandemic-imposed remote work surge has not reduced productivity as much as was feared, which prompts us to pose the question: Is the office a relic of the past? What will the office look like in the future?
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a New Yorker interview: “digital technology should not be a substitute for human connection”. The message is rather huge, considering Microsoft is currently spending every available resource in improving its Teams platform to cover more and more aspects of our work. Their most recent announcement, Microsoft Viva, will be a haven for “Connection, Knowledge, Learning and Well-being” through the platform currently housing more than 100 million users – most of whom are the past tenants of now-evacuated office spaces. Nadella thinks technology’s intervention is necessary “when there are constraints of space and time”.
A unique blend of remote and local
In surveys during the pandemic, working from home is seen as a new norm, with few workers expecting to spend a five-day working week in the office. The home office is no silver bullet though, with issues often related to loneliness, work-life balance, ergonomics, and distractions especially for parents. The need for social interaction with colleagues still exists, so some sort of hybrid solution seems an obvious choice. The challenge is in facilitating co-working with remote and in-person workers. “Hybrid is likely to deliver the worst of both worlds”, criticizes Ethan Bernstein, professor at Harvard Business School in the New Yorker. However, it seems quite a few companies are opting for the model – improvising, adapting and overcoming obstacles in the process.
The post-pandemic workplace might also be closer, with some companies considering deploying several small “satellite-offices” close to the homes of their workers. This would allow frequent social interaction with some co-workers with less commute, while utilizing the remote working tools to connect employees to one another in online working environments. These working places would have less individual space and more team collaboration rooms. The era of traditional meeting rooms with tall chairs around a long table might be approaching its demise.
Making the digital workplace social with Microsoft Teams
Whatever the chosen approach for each company turns out to be, the knowledge work’s future is decidedly more digital. The pandemic has proven that remote is a viable alternative to in-person offices, effectively forcing most knowledge companies to offer the choice for their employees, or risk losing them. Microsoft Teams and its aggressive development are constantly improving the home office working conditions to tip the scale even further towards the hybrid direction.
Fingertip is aiming to help ease the transformation to digital leadership processes through digital work environments. Our solution for Microsoft Teams offers leaders better decision making with a social dimension, extending to implementation and evaluation, with noticeably better accountability and initiative-taking. While the future of knowledge work is digital, we want it to be social as well.
Get to know Fingertip’s Teams solution and sign up as a pioneer for early adopter benefits!