On Wednesday 17 March, Modo25 hosted an expert online panel discussion to explore the future of the office.
Modo25 CEO, John Readman, was joined by Matthew Phelan, Co-Founder of The Happiness Index; Victoria Nash, MD of The Supper Club; Louise Lawrence, Partner at Winckworth Sherwood and Max Jezierski, Co-Founder of Frameworks.
It was an interesting and lively debate with the panel delving into topics such as employee retention, engagement and what purpose the traditional office has. Here are some of the key takeaways from the session:
For business owners, what does the future of the office look like?
Victoria: In the club, we find that most are looking to move to more of a hybrid model. The need for communication has been one of the biggest leadership challenges that we’ve seen during the pandemic. From what I’m hearing, that’s only going to get harder. You know, you’ve got people who will be in the office sometimes and some who might choose to work remotely most of the time. Also, challenging is the skillset for managers in terms of how to manage hybrids and not favouring people who aren’t coming into the office. So, most will move to hybrid and at the moment we’re having discussions around leadership and how that needs to change too.
Has the office environment been permanently changed?
Max: The very purpose of the office is now different. The days where the office exists so you can come in and spend a day sat there punching through mails or working on spreadsheets, single tasks you do yourself, are gone. Whether it’s one a day a week or five days a week, for the days that they are in, employees want the office to be for going to meetings or to socialise with co-workers. It’s not about having rows and rows of desks it’s about having a space that facilitates those meetings. At its core, I think the purpose of the office has changed. While there will still be companies that send there that send people in, the majority will use the office for very different things.
Matthew: In the grand scheme of things, offices are weird – right? They’re not natural environments for humans to thrive. So, I think office space and places for us to thrive will be part of the future. But I would encourage people to think back from a basic human perspective. What are the values, what is the vision and what is the best environment? Then, work back from there rather than try to answer the really difficult question of, ‘should we have an office or not?’
Is there a chance for both businesses and employees to benefit from flexible working?
Louise: I hope the conversation is going to continue and it’s not just going to be about remote working but flexible working in general. So, more opportunities around flexible hours and employers looking at what the outputs are rather than time spent by employees. There is still really an important role for the office. Not having an office at all could mean you’re not going to be able to track certain aspects of the talent pool. For some people, particularly employees starting their career, there are real learning experiences and benefits of being in an office space. Also, having face to face interactions really does encourage collaborative working and creativity. In my view, it’s all about balance and having that hybrid way of working.
For more insights, you can watch the full recording online.