Sooner or later, post-Pandemic shocks will lessen. The slow transition to a new way of life – the ‘new normal’ – will begin. What will happen to the work scenario? Will people still want to work remotely? When the lock-down was imposed, there was no choice. Quite abruptly, an entire workforce of thousands of people stopped going to the office and began working remotely. Overnight, a revolution took place in the way people worked.
But now, what is the future of remote working? There’s no denying that remote working has its advantages. No long hours commuting to work and back. The convenience of walking from one room to another, switching on the computer and getting down to work. Taking breaks as and when you want to. Not to mention not having to dress for business—just giving the ties a rest.
Having tasted this kind of freedom and flexibility, do people want to get back to things as they were? Surprisingly, the answer for many people is “Yes.” The office experience is irreplaceable. People do miss the face-to-face interaction, discussions in hallways and cafeterias, impromptu team meetings, the adrenaline rush that comes from working together to meet a deadline – all this makes for the excitement of the workday and, yes, were being missed during the lock-down period. As one remote worker eager to get back to his desk in the office says, “A gallery of thumb-size co-workers on a laptop is no substitute for actually meeting associates around a conference table.” Another worker bemoans: “The smile I got from my boss just can’t compare with an e-mail acknowledging a job well done.” Another person puts it succinctly: “We are social animals. We need to meet people and talk about our lives –not just our professional lives but also our personal lives.” “Advances in technology and automation are fine as long as the human connection is also maintained,” says another
officegoer wanting to get back to her desk.
When people return to work in the post-Pandemic scenario, it will most likely not be the office as they last saw it. There will be changes in office layout and design to conform to social distancing norms. It is expected that people will go in more for shared offices with desks set safely apart from each other. Shared office spaces in Delhi have been re-designed. Each person works in a self-contained area but can still say “Hello” to others in the room, so the personal touch is not lost. Likewise, shared office spaces in Mumbai give people their individual space while allowing for that all-too-important interaction. Shared offices in Andheri, Mumbai, are also being chosen for the ingenious way they combine working alone and being with others. The demarcations between people are clear, with extra partitions set up as guards. Yet you are not sitting all day by yourself, staring at your computer screen. It makes all the difference.
While working remotely will continue to be an option for some, there are many others looking forward to getting back to the office, seeing familiar faces, and experiencing the joy of human interaction that they missed during the lock-down.