An office full of team spirit.
By Wojciech Czaja, 07.01.2021
Due to the coronavirus, companies will focus on two different strategies in future – socialisation in the virtual space and the joint spirit in the real office. Two experts take a crystal ball look into the new decade.
“Ms Miller is working from home today but you are welcome to contact her by e-mail or mobile. Do you have her number?” For years, CEOs, executive board members and HR managers have repeatedly found good reasons why although working from home is essentially a sensible, sustainable thing, they would prefer it to be practised everywhere else but not in their own company. Following the motto: NIMB, not in my backyard! Or, indeed: NIMB, not in my business! Due to coronavirus, it has suddenly become possible and necessary to allow Ms Miller to work outside of the office as well – at home, in the coffee house, at her great aunt’s holiday home on the Attersee.
How companies keep their little sheep together and maintain something like an informal communication culture even in times of remote working is a matter of taste – and so varying that it is fun to be inspired by what is practised on the market. Some companies cultivate a digital after-work beer on Friday afternoon, where, at the end of the week, they celebrate their joint success. On the other hand, in other companies, the large Zoom meetings are opened with each participant recounting a funny mishap of the last week. Others, in turn, invite their employees to a common lunch once a week, where the food delivered is consumed together in front of the laptop camera. Bon appetit!
“Whether real or digital,” says Vienna-based change expert Bettina Wegleiter, “people without fail need a contact that goes beyond just work matters, just objective matters. In the physical office, we are already well-versed, with the spectrum ranging from the brief chat at the coffee machine to the joint company trip and the team-building process.” However, she says that in the virtual sphere, new formats are being tried out: virtual coffees, digital dinners, remote campfires to crown a completed project or a successfully completed stage. “We are still in the experimentation and trying out phase,” says Wegleiter. “Much of what we are doing today will die out again. However, some of it will survive, professionalise and establish itself. Thus, one thing above all is certain: we are on the verge of a comprehensive corporate culture revolution.”
The revolution also relates to the physical shell of the office. Or, as Thomas Fundneider, founder and managing director of The Living Core, forecasts: “In future as well, the real office will play an indispensable role, and it may be even more important than before, because there is a definite need for a place for socialisation, but also for setting up and concretising visions and processes away from the usual working from home routine. It is very difficult to map such deep core topics online.”
Will the office shrink? “Perhaps minimally, but not fundamentally,” says Fundneider. “The number of desks and run-of-the-mill workstations will definitely decrease. Thus, there will then finally be more space for other things – for the office as a hub, as a home base, as a spacious platform for team spirit.”