Will you work remotely close to home?

May 21, 2021

“Flexible working life” is more than home office vs. working from the office.

This article is translated from Norwegian and was originally published here.

For many employees, it will optimal to have the option to decide when to work from home and when to work from the office. Working from home may work well for some, however, it is not optimal for everyone.

We must avoid thinking “either-or” when it comes to the workplace vs. home office. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Knowledge-intensive companies need access to competence and the right person in the right place. In an elongated country like Norway, this means that in the future we should create job-independent workplaces. This will provide ample opportunities for the districts, by being able to move government jobs out of the big city and to the districts.
  2. Today’s employees are not just wage earners — they are expectation bearers. Flexibility in the workplace must not be about saving money. On the contrary, it is about investing in employee well-being, productivity, and ultimately the company’s profitability.
  3. Not everyone lives in a villa with space for a separate space for a home office — and also ergonomic equipment if needed. Over the past year, many have been hunched over their laptops on a corner of the dining table.

Moving forward, there are three areas that should be explored further

One is whether we will be able to utilize the office space that already exists, rather than build new office buildings that are not needed.

In the span of one week, buildings change from being almost empty to completely crowded. It forces companies to either rent more office space to handle the peaks or live with capacity issues.

Basically, there is a large surplus of space. It is estimated that half of all commercial property is unused at any given time (JJL: Occupancy planning trend report 2020). Because this surplus is not available to anyone else, it will be necessary to continue building more to meet demands.

What if we start to take advantage of the empty office space in the buildings close to our homes?

We also need to look at whether property owners who rent out office space are ready to renew their business models. Today, the rental market is characterized by long and inflexible leases that do not reflect a constantly changing work/business life.

Lastly, it is important that employers give employees the confidence to work more outside the office, even after the pandemic is a chapter in the past. Research shows that we do not become less productive by working away from the office, as long as we work smart and have tools for collaboration.

Imagine that ten years from now, we think back to the time when companies used to mobilize hundreds of employees to work from the same physical location. Regardless of role, function, or itinerary, everyone should show up and work from the same address.

It is possible that we will look back and chuckle at the thought of how we used to spend a large part of our time and energy commuting to and from the office.

Just as we realized during the Industrial Revolution that we had to use water, steam, and coal to mechanize production, we may eventually realize that we depend on flexibility, accountability, and trust to facilitate productive and satisfied knowledge staff.

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