Chamber Chat with Jon Powell

April 19, 2021 - 12:00am

Chamber Chat with Jon Powell

The future of the office?

Hurrah the pubs and restaurants are open (for outside dining)! The shops have opened their shutters. The roadmap seems to be on track! We need this, as individuals for our wellbeing and economically for our living. But a lot of people that would historically be described as predominately office workers are still working from home. Some businesses have made the decision to ditch the office, others to downsize the office, but many more (large and small) are still thinking about what the future of work will look like.

It isn't going to be simple. Many of us have seen some huge benefits from home working, more time with family or for education and training. Less time commuting. But we also recognise the benefits the office brings in terms of face to face interactions for problem solving, team bonding and a sense of belonging. For years we have explored flexible working and working flexibly but mainly that has either been adapting the place so staff can work anywhere 9-5, or adapting the time so colleagues have the option to work in the office at anytime.

Moving to an anywhere, anytime model sounds amazing but there are going to be some significant challenges. It won't be simply the best bits of office working combined with the best bits of home working. This hybrid model of retaining an office but introducing flexibility into the place of work and the time of work is going to be challenging and employers (and managers) are going to have to consider it from the point of view of (a) the processes and tasks, (b) key workflows and projects, (c) individual working preferences and styles and (d) community and inclusion. I'm working on this challenge at Lancaster University and would love to hear from Chamber members about their plans for the future of work. And it is also going to be interesting to see what place based solutions evolve in the Lancaster district.

Watch this space!