Almost immediately, however, designers, architects and everyone else with a stake in the future of workplace have spotted an opportunity to get creative and solve a problem that we don’t yet understand. Of course, much of this initial outpouring is based on nothing more than conjecture and the ability of marketing teams to create glossy, speculative pseudo-strategic guidance.The workplace community will be an integral part of our collective recovery, but this must be based on insights and hard evidence rather than guesswork and hearsay just weeks into an enforced experiment.
We are already crunching the numbers with fresh new data from employees sent to work from home, and we have an almost unique opportunity to compare that with 730,000+ employee experience responses, gathered across a 10-year project to statistically map office-based working. The clients deploying our home-working tools who have worked with us before will directly compare an employee’s perception of their temporary home workspace with their office. It’s not a direct apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s far better than guesswork.
Leesman’s historic data also reveals the magnitude of the behavioral shift needed if those predicting the immediate demise of the office are to be believed. In the UK and the US, for example, more than one in two employees have little or no experience of working from home whatsoever in their present roles.
Initial findings suggest that businesses have done an incredible job in dispersing the vast majority of those employees to home in a manner that still enables them to contribute. But to jump to the immediate conclusion that we should now reinvent workplace strategies overnight and leave a swath of our colleagues at home indefinitely because those employees did what governments and employers told them is misguided.