Has this unusual situation "working from home" make us more productive?

Author: Ákos Budai, editor-in-chief, Property Forum

Working from home

Having worked from home for more than 6 weeks now, I realized that I’ve probably never been more productive in my life. I’m in a unique position as I work very closely with a very small team which is quite used to remote working. We have daily video calls; we host virtual brainstorming sessions and we call to chat all day long. Technology allows us to feel connected even when we are isolated. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels productive at home.

According to a survey our company conducted among real estate professionals in the CEE region, 1 out of 6 people feel like remote working should be the new norm. At the same time, 3 out of 5 people think that their company should offer more remote working opportunities in the future.

The time I spent getting to and from work, making tea in the office kitchen, catching up with colleagues in the hallway, taking part in unnecessary meetings, debating on where we’re going to have lunch and getting into a “food coma” if the lunch was too filling – this is all time that I now dedicate to working. The lack of these things is what makes remote workdays really productive and the lack of these things is why I can’t wait to be back in the office.

It’s uncertain at this point when we’ll be able to return to the office and we also don’t know for sure how working in the office will look like post-COVID-19.

On the one hand, companies might need less office space in the future as more people will work from home. Remote working has slowly but steadily been on the rise for quite a long period when COVID-19 forced us into an unprecedented situation which can be interpreted as the largest global experiment on the effects of remote working.

Just a few weeks in, experts have already started speculating that companies will lease less office space in the future. The argument to be made is that since people can work effectively from home why not have them attend the office only a couple of days a week and save money on rent.

Ákos BudaiOn the other hand, since COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon and we have to prepare for future pandemics, medical experts suggest that office spaces should be reconfigured. It’s entirely possible that moving desks further away from each other won’t be enough and we have to leave the ‘open office’ concept and go back to working in cubicles. There are also a lot of questions to be raised related to HVAC systems and all the things we touch in an office – elevator buttons, door handles, soap dispensers, etc.

There are already reports that certain global companies plan on doubling the amount of space they lease in order for employees to be able to practice social distancing when they return to the office.

With these two conflicting trends, it’s impossible to predict how COVID-19 is going to affect the spatial needs of companies globally. One thing seems certain, though. When we return to the office, it will be different than it was before.

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