What will the return to the office look like?

Sami Häkkinen4.5.2021FranticReading time 4 min

Remote work has already become a routine during the Corona year. By the looks of it, after the summer of 2021 we are simultaneously faced with the familiar and the unknown: how will we return to the office? How did the working life change in a year?

For us, the transition to remote work in March 2020 was quite painless, but full-time home officing brought new challenges: ergonomics at work, boredom, children’s remote school, feelings of loneliness, work-life balance, and more. In our industry, the transition was certainly one of the easiest. We have been testing the possibilities and limits of remote work for several years now. Over the last year, the work has really been done remotely: people have visited the office only to take care of the essentials and the occupancy rate of the office has been less than 10%.

The theme of returning to the office has been topical for us also because we are planning to move to new premises at the turn of the year. In March, we conducted an internal survey on wishes regarding work habits and facilities, and the result was that about 80% of employees said they wanted to work in the office 2-3 days a week in the future, and the rest of the week remotely. The reasons for the office days were clear: the desire to collaborate together with co-workers, meet people and just get away from home.

There are certainly several models for returning to the office, but . There will certainly be in the coming months.

What things are essential in hybrid work? Here are some of our views and starting points for planning:

Hybrid work in focus

Prior to the Corona pandemic, our work culture was already strongly pro-remote work, but our practices and work routines were still quite office-oriented. In hybrid work, the remote work methods that suit each individual must be adapted to the work done in the office in a new way, and vice versa. This requires planning, as well as co-updating the work routines. Those of us who have worked fully remotely even before the pandemic have felt that the Corona time has improved the opportunities for participation when all the activities have taken place on the screens.

Same experience for all

In the future, some of the meeting and workshop participants will sit in the same space while some will join remotely. These situations must be designed in such a way that the experience and opportunities for participation are as equal as possible for all. We need to be careful here so as not to fall back into the old patterns, and there will certainly be new challenges along the way. What to do when, after a team meeting, the on-premise participants move on to afterwork - will remote video connections be kept on even then?

Rethinking the office space

What will space be used for? The top spaces in our survey were spaces for socializing, peaceful team spaces, and workspaces for quiet independent work. The significance of flexible spaces will surely grow and the reign of the open-plan office is clearly over.

Flexibility to extra square meters

How to find adaptability outside of your own office space, for example in the form of rentable extra space? We’ve looked into smaller satellite offices located near our home offices, as well as centrally located co-working spaces, and had discussions on how we could utilize those more creatively.

Office and remote ergonomics

When work is done in multiple places, the work ergonomics need to be up to par everywhere. We offer all frantimones a chance to have an electric desk, extra displays, and proper work chairs to ensure that the wellbeing does not suffer at the home office. Break exercises have to be organized so that everyone can join in the future as well.

When will we meet face to face?

Where and how will the meetings be held in the future? As the sales and client meetings have gone into teams, meets, and zooms, it’s interesting to see how meetings will be seen from now on. How will we balance between the benefits of meeting in person and the efficiency of video meetings?

Planning the return to the office is in full swing, and the next step of hybrid work will be taken when we’ll move into our new premises next year. Before we’ll host our office housewarming party (fingers crossed), we’ll be sure to share how our thoughts have shaped up around the topic. 

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