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The impact of Covid-19 and the future of work

Despina Katsikakis • 08/05/2020

The Covid-19 crisis has imposed home-working, whether organisations were willing and prepared or not. Despina Katsikakis, Head of Occupier Business Performance at Cushman & Wakefield, talks to us about the impact of the situation on organisational workplace transformation and the future of work.

What is the impact of the crisis on remote working?

We are in a unique position to have over 2.7m data points on what makes a positive experience for remote workers through our Experience per Sq Foot (XSF) tool.

The two key factors in successful team collaboration and bonding are the availability of technologies that are easy to use, and access to effective communication tools, like video conferencing, file-sharing platforms and instant messaging. An essential aspect of remote work is ability to focus. In this situation, the presence of children, pets, family can make it more difficult to manage distractions and even find space to work.

Employers can coach employees on how to make a more successful transition and to plan time to handle distractions and thereby reduce stress and work more effectively.

For a very long time, work has not been a place that many of us need to go to because technology means that we can work from anywhere. This crisis will force us to embrace that flexibility and think about if work is something we can do anywhere, why do we go somewhere? Data prior to the crisis already indicates that overall, remote workers have a 47% lower carbon footprint compared to commuters along with higher satisfaction, better work-life balance, productivity and a higher quality experience of the work place and more meaningful interactions with their employer and colleagues when they do spend time in the office.

Employees need to be reminded to take care of themselves and given a sense of empowerment from their employers.

Despina Katsikakis,  Head of Occupier Business Performance,  Cushman and Wakefield

Responsibilities of employers: is a strong sense of trust, the key to home- working success and employees’ well-being?

Trust is the most important element that underpins flexible working programmes so companies that have a culture of trust have more success. One of the risks of working from home is that we forget to move and focus on our wellbeing.

Even without Covid-19, a consistently under-performing attribute of the workplace is people’s ability to renew throughout the day, to feel refreshed physically and mentally in order to keep performing well. In this situation, people will struggle because they are already under enormous stress. It is therefore important that we can use this enforced home-working model to accelerate a culture of trust and promote well-being. Employees need to be reminded to take care of themselves and given a sense of empowerment from their employers: the freedom to make choices that best serve their personal needs while at the same time meeting their professional goals.

How can you help clients move towards this new way of thinking and working?

Organisations that have managed this crisis most effectively are the ones that had some support mechanisms in place already, but others are catching up. Some of our clients are doing remote coaching and training to help people adapt to virtual collaboration tools, bringing together new protocols and daily checking in. We have modified our Experience per Square Foot (XSF) survey & launching XSF@home to support our key clients to understand the issues employees are facing at home and to guide people on how to do things differently as well as understand their priorities for coming back to work. 

Does this crisis provide opportunities for innovation?

It is a potentially very exciting time in terms of the outcomes of rebalancing how we work in the future. We have now experienced a new work life integration and the crisis creates an imperative for us to think about how we manage space, time and experience to create value – in a long-term sense. I anticipate some new metrics will come into play and organisations will want to reduce wasted time, stress, carbon and useless space, and increase well-being, resilience, flexibility, choices, collaboration and trust.

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