Was working from home during the recent covid-outbreak an unplanned preview to what the future office landscape may look like?
In contrast to the boomer generation, we are inching away from traditional working lifestyles and if we dare think, even physical office buildings. During this pandemic, we have experienced the impacts of working from home. Some of the main challenges employees faced was the inability to keep separate work and home affairs while sharing the same space.
On the flipside, many others have been able to strike a better work-life balance with the availability of spare pockets of time which would otherwise be spent commuting back and forth the office or being requested to work late or attend other corporate functions.
“Co-working spaces” as the name suggests, is a communal setup replicating a modern office environment where freelancers or flexible workers are welcome to work and occupy the premises while sharing common infrastructure (such as utilities, pantry refreshments, receptionists, parcel services, and more) at an economical rental rate.
From meeting rooms to hot desks, there are endless options catering to the varying business needs of our diverse world today. According to the co-working handbook, 2019 saw a 20% growth in co-working spaces within the year. It is said that “the average coworking space in Asia has 205 members, more than on any other continent.”
Jumping on this growing trend, some companies in Singapore have allowed employees the flexibility to work from home or inhabit other conducive work spaces in their efforts to promote a vibrant and efficient working culture. Imagine serene background music, natural light, and moderated air temperatures to keep you energised and refreshed throughout your working hours. It sure does sound good.
There are many benefits to completing tasks in the comfort of co-working spaces. For starters, you will not be interrupted as much with the whirring sound of a coffee machine at odd timings, the incessant sliding of doors from people entering or exiting the office every few minutes, powering through with sheer concentration through loud conversations being held over phone calls, excessive clutter in shared workspaces and a myriad of other distractions a regular office carries.
Many employees around the world have expressed how these seemingly “small” distractions negatively impact their efficiency by fragmenting their attention while completing tasks. Several studies have shown that an individual takes an average of at least 15 to 23 minutes to regain attention and concentration after they have been interrupted.
According to a Guardian article, “In an eight-hour day, there are an estimated 60 interruptions taking place.” Imagine all the lost time that could be saved when managed efficiently. More than that, the benefits of a co-working space offers the valuable option to break away from your comfort zone, allowing for a breath of fresh air and a change in perspective.
This stimulates creative innovation and new ideas. It also presents a relaxing atmosphere for networking and meeting opportunities which is an important aspect for the majority of the companies. This homely and conducive environment further allows for greater cohesion between business professionals who might otherwise be stressed from endless office meetings under fluorescent lights and the boring long table setup.
With every option, there are always pros and cons to consider. In light of these rising co-working spaces, employers are concerned about remote employees working less and rightfully so. Without direct supervision, many are worried that employees may be multi-tasking or mixing personal responsibilities with work during office hours.
Other concerns include a decrease in quality relationships, communication and collaboration between colleagues which a traditional office environment promotes. Ultimately, we have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. It is impossible to stay competitive whilst using traditional practices in a modern world.
With that being said, this might be a foreign concept for some companies. Understandably, it could be something they are unwilling to acquaint themselves with due to the potential issues that could arise from this. Still, as an employee, you are allowed to share options for increased efficiency and if your supervisor is open, you can always bring it up for consideration in small steps. This could come in the form of requesting a conducive environment for a strategy team meeting where ideas and strategic thinking can flourish.
Outside the borders of an office, something within your control if you are catching up on work during the weekends, is trying a change in location. Opt for a quiet cafe or a happy place which you enjoy.
Research has proven that “happiness at work reduces stress, raises your energy by 65%, boosts productivity by as much as 31%, and builds a high-performing work environment and quality of life for employees.” Your location can create a sense of peace and significantly reduce the strain that is attached to the task.