Anna Lalova, Colliers Office Agency
It’s been a year since our work-from-home era started, but such a model of work will not become the new reality for everyone. Sooner or later, the office (work in the office) will make a comeback.
Previously, a relatively small part of Latvian employees have had the remote work experience. Life in the reality of COVID-19 and working from home—some have managed to deal with it better than others. The positive experience makes many entrepreneurs think that, in the future, they could stick to a similar scenario, when most employees work remotely, because then they would not have to pay for coffee, office space rent, and would not have to pay utility bills.
Entrepreneurs always concentrate on the future and prospects. At the moment, they are considering employee' objections to the lack of opportunities for socialising. When working remotely, without direct contact with colleagues and employers, some employees lose loyalty and trust in the company. Managers need to respond to these changes, offer solutions, and find ways to set up the office so that employees want to be there and work.
At the same time, the question arises—what kind of office one might need. It is clear that not all employees need to be on-site every day, they have already learned to work from home and would like to maintain this flexibility. At the same time, you need premises that would keep employees interested in being present at a particular company. Having your own office is also important so that you can follow the progress of your employees, understand if everyone is coping, and so that new employees can feel and understand the company’s culture. The social part, being in a team, allows you to feel and understand the specifics of work faster.
For the search and selection of office space to be successful, the following factors must be taken into account:
1. Employee convenience.
It's no secret that many companies face challenges in attracting employees. Yes, the overall unemployment rate has risen slightly, but it cannot be applied to all sectors and specialties. In order to attract and retain qualified employees, it is necessary to think about making the office useful and convenient for them. For example, large companies often collect data on where their employees live. If people live in different parts of the city, most likely when looking for new premises, the optimal solution would be the city centre. If most of them have cars, one may want to consider an office building somewhere else but with a large parking lot. By involving employees in such surveys, the company’s management does not make a decision alone, but engages its employees, which, in turn, creates a sense of common responsibility for the choice.
2. Environmental infrastructure, services, opportunities.
The emotional part of the work process is important. The office is an office, work is work, but everyone likes to go for a walk, go to a cafe, or change their environment. People also want to have a good time on weekdays. Employees positively evaluate various opportunities, additional benefits both in and near the building.
3. Well-being of employees.It is related not only to the psychological climate, but also to things like the quality of the building and its engineering systems. For example, if indoor air quality is questionable, work efficiency decreases. On the other hand, good air quality can mean fewer sick days for the employer. In new, progressive buildings, such things are usually thought of. The quality of the buildings is confirmed by various certificates (BREEAM, LEED, WELL), which currently are becoming more and more popular and requested by tenants in Europe and, gradually, also in Latvia.
4. Energy efficiency.
Rents are no longer the only cost item to look out for, all costs must be considered together. If the building is energy efficient, utility costs can be relatively lower. For example, in a building built in the early 2000s, utility costs can be up to twice as high as in a new building built according to sustainable criteria. It should be noted that energy efficiency is linked to the certificates already issued.
5. Equipment or functions intended for the office.
This point is more related to the planning process. It is important not to forget all the functions, and to think about their interaction. For example, if everyday life is mostly related to teamwork, it is necessary to provide these teams with separate premises where they will be able to work qualitatively. If, for example, the layout of a company’s work premises is based on the principle of an open office, we should not forget about those people who, due to their nature and characteristics, are not suitable for such a solution. Even in open-plan workspaces, quieter, more isolated areas can be provided. If the office is planned qualitatively, it will function successfully in the long run, because the employees will also work qualitatively and efficiently. The most common planning mistakes occur when the company’s management takes over the planning of premises, without previous experience or an employee needs survey. As a result, the whole organisation suffers, and productivity, as well as overall satisfaction, falls. Therefore, it is very important to attract and listen to experts who work with the planning and functionality of the premises on a daily basis.