10 Strategies for Reinventing The Way You Work At the Office or At Home

What can we learn from the disruptions, difficulties and challenges we’ve experienced?

It is often said,

“Crisis Precedes Change”

Well, COVID is a vivid example of a crisis that inspired global change. Our worlds shifted and so did we.

Our lives were forever changed and there is no going back. Yet, despite countless disruptions, the pandemic did inspire many innovations and shifts in life, work, meaning and connection.

Here are a few examples of the tremendous unfreezing COVID caused:

People isolated themselves from family, friends, colleagues and the public at large.

Schools, offices, restaurants, gyms, concerts, theater and professional sporting events were forced to shut down indefinitely.

People shifted their grocery purchases to online.

College professors and students learned how to engage in distanced learning.

Even resistant executives had to mandate work from home.

People saw doctors (primary and specialists) online or via telephone.

Restaurants shifted to take-out only.

From attorneys, financial advisers to stylists and personal trainers, countless professionals offered consults and services online.

In looking ahead, what can we learn from the disruptions, difficulties and challenges we’ve experienced? And how can we use these lessons to chart a new course for our futures?

Rather than ask, “when will people return to the office.” The more progressive companies are asking, “what will the office of the future look like.”

Slack, the maker and user of a collaboration tool that facilitates remote work, recently surveyed 3000 knowledge workers to understand what tools and strategies will best support the future of work.

Here are three discoveries worth understanding:

Hybrid trumps traditional

There is no denying that office policies was stuck in a 9-to-5 rut for decades, a rut that no longer serves people, companies, or communities.

Slack’s survey discovered that most people never want to go back to the 9-5 old way of working.

Only 12% want to return to full-time office work.

And a whopping 72% of people want flexibility, a mix of both remote and office. People prefer a hybrid model in moving forward.

The rest are split fairly evenly between working exclusively from the office or solely from home.

But keep in mind, one size fits one. Hybrid is not for everyone. Our sense of satisfaction and belonging can suffer while working remotely.

The perceptions and impact of work from home vary across job roles, genders, seniority and other factors. As you plan reentry, whenever possible, it is in your best interest to ask and involve people.

Remote boosts productivity

Even though people report higher satisfaction levels, improved work-life balance, productivity, and less stress and anxiety when working remote vs. at the office, their experiences and perceptions differ.

Variations among home situations such as the presence of another parent, the age and number of children, and other caregiving demands can impact satisfaction levels.

The survey also suggests that more experienced remote employees tend to report higher satisfaction and productivity levels than their less-experienced peers.

Despite these variations, remote work has had a net positive effect on productivity, stress and overall work satisfaction.

Before the pandemic, U.S. workers spent an average of 54 minutes commuting each day. So it is not surprising, one of the most popular benefits of working remotely includes no commuting, which saves money, saves time and eliminates a daily stressor.

Bottom line, people working from home seem to experience a boost in their overall quality of life.

The overall takeaway, people, are resilient and the pandemic has inspired a widespread appeal to working remotely.

Belonging still matters

Due to COVID physical gatherings, spontaneous one-one interactions, coffee breaks, lunches, meetings, birthday celebrations, volunteer events, and happy hours came to a screeching halt.

And although we desperately tried to replace them with virtual options, virtual often falls short when it comes to creating a sense of belonging, developing new relationships, and gaining insight into the work of others.

Why? Various reasons:

Although unstable connectivity was noted as a challenge by 1 in 4 respondents (24%), people frequently mentioned relational challenges.

  • Maintaining and building working relationships with colleagues
  • Staying focused and avoiding distractions
  • Feelings of loneliness or isolation
  • Keeping up with what others are working on

In looking ahead, companies must be willing to offer flexible work schedules and a hybrid approach to work.

Our sense of satisfaction and belonging can suffer while working remotely.

Here are 13 Ideas for redesigning the office of the future:

1. Focus on mental health and wellbeing

The pandemic has left people feeling isolated, stressed, uncertain and wary. Don’t be in denial. Call it out and deal with it generously and graciously. Create a vulnerable and psychologically safe culture where it’s okay to discuss these issues and receive professional advice if needed.


Ask people what they want and give them options. Do you want to come back full-time? Work remotely? In-office three days a week? Four days? One day? As an example, many companies are experimenting with 4-day work weeks.

3. Formalize hybrid

Going into an office a few days a week or month or year vs. old model—let people choose what works best for them in terms of productivity. At the same time, employees must build resilience and actively preserve boundaries between home and their job to boost performance and maintain personal wellbeing. Offer day plan suggestions and strategies for avoiding distractions and staying focused and productive.

4. Measure results, not time and busyness

The traditional model rewarded input and output. The future will focus more on output, rewarding results. Enlightened leaders will reward outcomes that contribute to the goals of the enterprise. The new approach to work involves a shift in control from employer to employee. In the age of “smart” working, an individual is in control of their own time. Whenever possible managers should trust employees to decide when and where to work.

5. Don’t assume working from 9 to 5 is suitable for everyone

Many people, particularly those employed for their creativity, may do their best work outside traditional hours. There is no reason to require people to work at times when they are not productive.

6. Offer stipends

Help people get the equipment they need to work remotely. Many companies already did so, and if you have not, offering a stipend is a way to show you care about the ergonomics of their situation at home and you want them to be happy and productive. Many professionals found WFH a challenge, not because of isolation but because they didn’t have the ideal space or a dedicated home office.

7. Go beyond health/dental benefits

Consider offering tutoring assistance, financial planning and parenting support/hotline for parents working from home.

8. Keep it personal

Send employees regular tips for balancing work and home, strategies for coping with loneliness, and guidelines for scheduling a virtual appointments. Keep people connected and engaged by using social media to host informal chats, trivia games and other non-work related activities.

9. Grow digitally dexterity

Make better use of new technology to address our need for personal connection, mentoring and a sense of belonging. Businesses can create digital workplaces that make it easier for all kinds of employees to work in flexible environments while also living their lives. The rise of 5G networks and connected machines will enable virtual on-the-go and shared workstations.

10. Offer shared work stations

Companies are now offering hot spots instead of an assigned desk. When you show up, you sign-up for a hotspot and use a shared desk as a workstation. Hot workstations will provide employees with all the amenities of a digital workplace, from AI-powered assistants that prep whiteboard presentations to virtual reality headsets that put you at the table of a morning meeting with co-workers around the world.

By 2028, employees will use avatars, language software, conversational interfaces, and real-time dialect translation to work and speak with team members across languages, borders, and cultures, with almost no loss of context or meaning.

11. Repurpose the office

Incentivize people to come to the office. Redesign the office for teamwork and collaboration vs. independent work. Make the office the new off-site for special events, team-building, cross-functional gatherings and other important meetings.

12. Consider satellite workplaces

More and more, we’ll see satellite workplaces in neighborhoods where people can get out of the house for a few hours but don’t have to have a long commute into a crowded office building.

13. Train and reward

Continue to train people to use and embrace technologies of the future. Reward people for constant upskilling and digital dexterity. The traditional model of time and attendance, tenure and experience may not be weighted as heavily as it used to. Instead, people want their productivity to be measured by how they contribute to the organization’s growth, not how long they are in the office.

“Rather than ask, “when will people return to the office.” The more progressive companies are asking, “what will the office of the future look like.” 

And finally,

2020 provided a break from things we simply tolerated and ignored. People will no longer put up with abusive managers, corporate politics, office bullies and toxic workplaces.

People were freed from the bureaucracy that smothers creativity and tanks results.

At this point, people are asking, should I take these insights and lessons learned as an opportunity to shift careers and consider other options? How much time do I want to spend in the office? Where do I want to live if I can work remotely? Does the nature of my work offer meaning and significance? Are the company’s mission and values aligned with my own?

In looking ahead, the desirable companies of the future will become more attractive not solely by money, flexibility and creative benefits but by understanding that people want both meaningful work and quality of life. And there is no separating the two.


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