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Dilemmas of the return - by guest writer Laszló Mezriczky

How to get back to the office and the workplace is on many people's minds these days. After a year at home, the opportunity to be together again as colleagues and colleagues is now a real possibility. However, the situation is much more complicated than that, in more ways than one.

Firstly, a growing number of surveys show that a significant proportion of workers do not necessarily want to return to the pre-March 2020 working patterns, meaning that working remotely from home has become popular. This is not surprising, of course, as for years there has been a debate about whether it is really necessary to spend 5 days a week, 8-10 hours a day, in a space called an office-like workplace, doing daily tasks, typically on a computer (and let's ignore any tasks that are different: manufacturing, outdoor work, etc.). It turns out that a lot of things can be done quite efficiently even if you don't go into the office.

Another issue is the amount of office space required on return. It was a great opportunity for finance and operations professionals to recalculate the costs and report cost savings of tens of percent by developing a new approach to office space.

So far, it looks like a win-win situation - let's take office building operators out of the equation - which means that "all that's left" is to make it happen. Yes, but there are aspects that deserve to be taken into account. One is the concept of shared workspace, which is being introduced as a consequence of reduced office space capacity. Whether the desk is 'hot' or 'shared', it means the elimination of the intimate, private working space of the employee, which has been a major attachment factor for many. The possibility of having your own plant, family photos, unpacked personal belongings is gone, and you can now work wherever the system, the application, draws you.

Closely related to this is whether the system takes into account the accommodation of people working together when allocating individual workplaces. If one member of the team sits on the third floor of building A and the other on the ground floor of building B on the same day, we are no more advanced than if we worked from home, and indeed we are: we have to "call" each other just as much as we have to "call" each other, only now we are disturbing the others, which means we have to find a quiet place, a meeting room, which we have to book again... We can already see the people wandering in the corridors, walking in the car park, fighting for meeting rooms...

Another question is the fate of informal contacts in companies. At work we not only work, we also have a social life, we communicate, we make friends, we gossip. In the new system, these need to be reinvented, as old routines can be forgotten.

It can be seen, therefore, that in the context of a happily improving epidemic situation, the seemingly pleasant task of getting back on track also creates new and rather complex challenges that need to be thought through if we are not to lose the essence in the process: workplace cohesion, that extra something that makes our company stand out from the rest.


Laszlo Mezriczky

Ispiro Consulting

Budapest, Hungary

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