What will the world look like when we come out of this pandemic? I have been asked this question by hundreds of people over the past few months. One thing is for certain – our working environment is set to change beyond recognition, permanently.
The norm of office working in the post-coronavirus world is unlikely, to say the least. In this article, I’m going to look at four factors that will feature highly in the years to come.
A new normal awaits
Work away from the office has gradually been edging its way into the consciousness of businesses and their employees for a number of years in Monaco and around the world. The availability of home working has increasingly cropped up as a topic of conversation. Questions surrounding its necessity were brought up in equal measure. The last four months have undoubtedly changed the context behind these doubts, not least for the thousands that commute into Monaco for work from France and beyond. There is not a one size fits all approach to the new norm, but it is clear that time away from the office has generally been a success. There will be no going back to the conventions of pre-2020. Here are four key changes that are here to stay.
Adaptable and adjustable working
It is impossible to group home-working into a singular experience. Some of us live with our families, others have a wealth of distractions – not every environment is conducive to productive work. This is why I believe a key feature of the future is flexibility. In years to come, companies cannot assume that a one size fits all approach will work for them and their employees.
Environments aren’t the only factor that differs, so does experience. Although one-third of Monaco is made up of millionaires, every one of us is on a different journey. A fair chunk of Monegasque employees will still need and benefit from a significant period of their working week spent in the office. This will still be an unrivalled home for training and development for those with less experience. Those that are mature in their roles may benefit from more home working, and I expect companies to account for this. Business owners will need to offer bespoke approaches to their employees in the future – this will benefit both parties in the new normal.
Space efficiency in the principality
Real estate spend has always been under the spotlight here in Monaco, and coronavirus adds a health aspect to this reality on top of the financial considerations. The acceleration of technology has continued to combat the prohibitive cost of physical desk space. Expect this to be questioned long into the future, especially with the density of our population to account for.
Shared systems such as clouds mean that employees have access to everything they need to carry out their job regardless of the location they’re in. Some simple maths shows the scale of the potential savings. It is clear that a business that employed 90 people needed 90 desks in the past. Suddenly, it only needs 30 desks because two-thirds of its employees will work from home at any one time in the new normal. That is a 200% increase in the utilisation of space. Co-working companies are going to see a surge in demand.
Workers won’t lose their contact time with managers and peers either. Centralised booking systems for desks could account for the times where face-to-face contact is imperative. Meeting rooms will be easier to book for gatherings, allowing for internal and external relationships to be maintained.
Less of a commute for non-residents
In the past, I have had employees that have been at least three hours into their day without having started a minute of work. The new normal eliminates this headache for employees, and undoubtedly increases productivity for the companies they work for. Cutting out the commute that many dread will have exponential win-win benefits. Uncomfortable, unpleasant and expensive for those travelling from afar, it also means businesses will have employees that are less stressed at the start of the day.
The way I have worked with my virtual PA over the past few months is a classic example of the new reality. She lives 350 miles away from me in the UK, but doesn’t need to commute to be there in person. She is able to spend more time with her children, and I am still getting the same quality of service that I did for 25 years with a PA sitting outside my office. The fact that we’re able to conduct business over the phone or through Zoom renders a PA in person unnecessary. This illustrates just how the new way of working can offer a much wider range of options for employers, employees and recruiters.
Monegasque recruitment search broader
For my industry, the post-coronavirus culture opens up a new dimension of opportunity. The new culture of flexibility insurmountably widens the catchment area for talent. Traditionally, we would place a 50 mile limit to an office as a filter in our search to fill a vacancy. The new flexible reality widens this radius significantly. Suddenly people that are 100 miles away are attracted to roles knowing that their commute is limited to a couple of journeys a week at most. We have been afforded a transformational opportunity to widen the pool of talent we source. Monaco stands in a great place to benefit from the wider geographic search.
We will also save on costs. Consider the fact that hiring someone in Antibes costs less than in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. We have gained access to a wider talent pool, and it’s a win-win scenario. Rather than be limited to working for smaller companies, those that live far and wide suddenly have access to big corporations that base themselves in Monaco and other high-profile locations. The paradigm shift has made me more accessible to candidates and them more accessible to me.
How I’m changing
I am busy trying to create these conditions for my own business and employees. Having our own personalised desks with pictures of our families will be a thing of the past. More casual seating arrangements are to be put in their place. I am passionate about creating an environment that puts collaboration at its heart. There is absolutely no problem in three to four days a week being spent at home, with one office day dedicated to meetings and training. This day also offers the chance to maintain work bonds, culture and learning from peers.
I am so convinced of this new normal that I have invested in businesses that have adopted this model. Companies such as Regus have my financial backing because I believe they will do well out of this.
As a matter of fact, we are all going to see our lives in Monaco improve – this new way of working creates several win-win situations and it is for that reason that I passionately believe these four factors will be key components in the future of the workplace here and elsewhere. I am keen to hear about other ways in which you think working will change after this pandemic. Send me your suggestions, and I will do my best to respond.
Email James Caan via Monaco Life: firstname.lastname@example.org