We analyze the new trends for the workplace among which the anxiety of employees to return to the office stands out.
by Ricardo Riva Palacio*
A year after the pandemic the modality of work has evolved, at the beginning of this situation, working from home seemed to be the formula for productivity. However, a study conducted by Barco on the Hybrid Meeting 2020, showed that the disadvantages began to outweigh the benefits. Employees miss social interaction, experience fatigue from remote meetings, and struggle to balance household and office chores.
Now, looking ahead to 2021 and what seems to be the year of resilience, Barco conducted a study called Meeting Trends Research 2021 where it is shown that 56% of employees are eager to return to the office, and 72% expect to return by the end of June 2021. This research uncovered new trends for the workplace. One of them is that employees around the world are eager to get back to the office. 50% of the working population already occasionally goes to the office, but the study shows some regional differences.
For example, unlike Latin America, Australia and France appear to be at the forefront of the back-to-office trend, with 82% and 61% of employees, respectively, having already returned (partially). In India and the US, most workers have not yet returned, and only 40 and 42%, respectively, indicate that they are already back. Most employees (72%) expect to be back by the end of June. However, in Germany many employees believe that they will only be able to return from July to September and beyond.
Employees want to resume their face-to-face activities, but this doesn't mean they're ready to give up the newly discovered flexibility in their work from home. People want to choose when and where to work and are tired of virtual meetings. This leads to the ideal balance of the workweek shifting in favor of the office. In September 2020, people were even more optimistic about working from home and employees indicated that the ideal workweek would be 2 days at home and 3 days at the office. Today, the desire to do it from home has been reduced to 1.5 days a week, and employees prefer to spend more time in the office.
In this sense, the work model and hybrid meetings are the consolidation of the changes in social dynamics that we experienced in 2021. A hybrid meeting is one in which one part of the audience joins from the office and another part joins remotely, enabled by audio and video conferencing technology with a strong focus on content sharing.
However, there is a key difference between a hybrid and a virtual encounter. Hybrid is a unique combination of an in-room component and an online virtual component with live video streaming and online content presentation. It combines the best features of both types of meetings: in-person communication and benefits of virtual meetings for sharing information, recording and interacting.
In hybrid meetings, the focus is on seamless collaboration and content sharing both in the room and remotely. The ultimate goal is to make them as intuitive and simple as those that are face-to-face. This trend shows a total acceptance of the hybrid work model that today is the key to productivity and synergy in the team. A renewed workplace, which adopts new and combined models, will be substantially different and the results will be seen in the way in which people develop, not only at the work level, but socially.
To facilitate this need, offices will need a rethink and redesign. Especially when employers want to ensure rules for social distancing and restrict movement in crowded areas at the same time. Workers want more structured and planned in-person meetings and, consequently, more closed and formal spaces that allow video meetings, so from now on the need to adapt meeting rooms with immersive technologies is more prevalent.
* Ricardo Riva Palacio, Business Sales Manager at Barco.