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A New Role of the Office

Want to know more about the recent reports on remote work? Check out 7N's latest article about how remote work is changing the IT industry.

10/04/2022 Jakub Strzemżalski, Vice President of Outsourcing at 7N

What can you expect to learn from this article?

  • 1

    Based on research, you will get insight into a large pool of IT consultants' preference on where to work.

  • 2

    How culture can affect how employees prefer to works.

  • 3

    How the physical offices can have a new function in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Management often expects their team to come back to the office, which—equally as often—clashes with the team's desire to continue working from home, at least partially. So, how to make the most out of the “abandoned” corporate space? As it turns out, the role of an office has started to shift from the traditional one—and in quite an interesting way.

The lift of pandemic restrictions can be a tough challenge for employers, as they're now forced to reconcile their business needs with employees' newfound work preferences.

Remote work - then and now

The remote work model (and the hybrid one) had been present in the field of new technologies long before the pandemic began, which has been proven by a study conducted by 7N.

Admittedly, the percentage of those who worked this way was much smaller than today (29% of IT consultants worked remotely, while 27% of them—were in a hybrid model), but it was still significantly higher than the general trend that prevailed across the job market.

Now—according to research carried out by No Fluff Jobs—the percentage of IT professionals who have transitioned to a fully remote model has reached the average of 61%. The data was collected from Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary, and even though the exact numbers differ from country to country, each one shows the fully remote work model as being the most popular.

The leader in the ranking is Poland, where nearly 75% of IT specialists work from home. Speaking on the main advantages of this model, 40% rate the lack of a commute as the biggest advantage, while 18% cite the possibility of performing their tasks from anywhere in the world.

Employees have come to appreciate the remote work model so much that a full 56% are prepared to look for a new employer should their current one insist they come back to the office for good.

As it turns out, transitioning to the fully remote work model (or a broader implementation of the hybrid one) can result in higher productivity, according to respondents’ statements.

As many as 57% of IT professionals declare that their efficiency is greater when they work from home, 29% don’t see any difference, and only 7% view their productivity as suffering.


What's not remotely good enough for remote employees?

In the IT industry, online communication tools such as Teams, Slack, or Jira have been known and used for a long time.

So, if we look at the main disadvantage of the remote work model—which, as every fifth respondent claims, is poor communication—we can conclude that it’s all about the lack of good cooperation and not about technological limitations.

Additionally, if we take into consideration that nearly 19% of those who work from home complain about loneliness, we can almost be sure that the main obstacle is due to human factors.

The beginning of the pandemic showed that the remote model works best for tight-knit teams in which the respective members know each other very well and enjoy mutual communication—both professional and personal.

Point of view: the employee and the employer

One thing that IT professionals truly value in the remote work model is flexibility. Some employers neither count the number of hours worked, nor require their employees to be present in front of the computer within a fixed time frame.

Instead, they opt for performance assessments. This gives the employee a sense of freedom when it comes to arranging their daily schedule.

On the other hand, some managers require employees to return to the office due to a fear that a scattered team is unable to develop a sense of belonging to the corporate community or identify with the company culture.

Cultural differences: Some appreciate the remote work model more than others

Yet another challenge can be laying down ground rules of cooperation within culturally diverse international groups.

According to the 7N study, both the remote work and hybrid models are valued by respondents in Poland. As many as 30% of IT professionals in Poland state that their preference is to work fully remotely, whereas another 35% prefer to work within a remote-first hybrid work model.

In comparison, respondents in Denmark expressed entirely different preferences. A mere of 3.5% are in favor of the fully remote model, whereas 8% are in favor of the remote-first hybrid work.

That being the case, the traditional work model cannot possibly be abandoned for good, as this would honor the wishes of only a certain group of employees.

Time for reflection

After almost 2.5 years since the pandemic outbreak, now is the time for reflection.

Companies have started to question the modus operandi of their teams to provide them with a suitable work model. Trying to force things back to how they used to be won’t get us anywhere.

The analysis should be performed with the help of designated tools that collect data on meeting dynamics, and the frequency of video calls. The preferred method of project management, the type, and frequency of meetings, creative workshops, and debriefing sessions, as well as day-to-day use of tools needed for task coordination — these, are all a gold mine of information that facilitates coming up with an optimal work system for each team.

There are no ideal solutions that can be implemented universally across all units and departments. Today, each company searches for a model compatible with its own inner workings. Even Zoom has an office, but it has now come to serve an entirely different function than before.

The office? Or where friendships are made?

The best way to strike a balance and cater to the needs of both those who want to work on-site and those who prefer working remotely is to rethink the office’s role altogether.

Nowadays, most corporate spaces are no longer used solely for work. They have transformed into bustling centers conducive to establishing and strengthening mutual relationships between employees.

In the pre-pandemic era, the term “integration meeting” often conjured up a vision of a company dinner at a restaurant. Today, what has become the norm are group breakfasts and adapting certain rooms for workshops or entertainment activities.

Contrary to the predictions of some, the pandemic hasn’t deemed offices redundant. If anything, they have gained importance and assumed a completely new, and extremely valuable, function.

They are no longer dreary places where employees spend most of their time glued to their desks. Now, they have become the ideal place for team tasks, creative work, strengthening bonds, and even relaxation.

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