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  • The Post-COVID Changes to BDO Office Life
Article:

The Post-COVID Changes to BDO Office Life

24 August 2022

The pandemic forced us to move our workplaces to our homes. Nowadays we are trying to return to the "pre-pandemic" life, but it will not be nearly the same as before. This was  also confirmed by a survey conducted by the BDO Global Real Estate & Construction Industry group at the end of 2021, in which up to 167 member companies participated, and the results are more than interesting. What impact did the pandemic and working from home have on working life?

The survey shows how work is evolving together with the shape and role of the office. BDO Managing Partners shared lessons learned and effective strategies deployed to chart a path through a generational event. Here, the survey reveals remarkable overlaps and common patterns. They point to hard work, innovation, and embracing changes to the office and management styles as core initiatives.

 

Being in the office from nine to five from Monday to Friday is becoming outdated. Work life has started to develop in a new direction and the role of the office is changing.

 

Up to seventy percent of the countries surveyed by BDO plan to maintain flexible working models. The reasons are clear - increased flexibility, work-life balance and employee well-being.

There were also many respondents who demanded a full return to the office. The reason is mainly the lack of suitable working conditions in employees' households, which indicates the contributing factors are deficiencies in the communication infrastructure, long-term stress and tension. Employees often feel lonely, cut off from colleagues.

Offices offer some of the best opportunities to mitigate and balance adverse effects and increase employee well-being. In addition, they remain key to long-term effectiveness and talent attraction and retention.

Interesting fact:

BDO Slovakia has set a general rule that employees should be able to get to the office within 90 minutes, should need arise. This is linked to a desire to be able to service a client within given timeframe.

 

The changes here to stay

Pressing the fast-forward button on existing trends is often used as an image to illustrate COVID’s effect on the workplace and work styles.

There can be little doubt that flexible work styles were slowly making their presence felt before the pandemic. Now, it looks they are here to stay.

However, BDO’s Managing Partners also report that concerns about employees’ sense of belonging, wellbeing, and engagement drive requests to spend time in the office, as do concerns about employee efficiency and maintaining team dynamics.

It indicates how office life and meeting colleagues and clients in analogue form are vital for productivity and wellbeing.

Download BDO Global Workplace Survey Report

 

Making better use of office time

While remote work has become normalised, that does not make the office a dead space. On the contrary, it continues to serve as the foundation for crucial social and work-related functions.

Simultaneously, less time spent in the office increases the need to make it count. This applies not only to work-related tasks such as teamwork and group innovation sessions but also to informal socialising, knowledge sharing, etc. Therefore, the office space needs to reflect this dynamic.

When introducing hybrid workplaces, BDO Managing Partners point to the 3Cs: Collaboration, Concentration, and Conference as guiding factors when considering changes. Other central elements include integrating tech solutions and digitalisation, physically rearranging office layouts according to the type of activity that needs to be performed (isolation, collaboration, innovation, relaxation, etc.), and increasing health & safety.

 

 

Social and work in hybrid forms

With hybrid work models becoming the norm, digital solutions play an increasingly significant role across formal (work tasks) and informal (teambuilding or socialising) processes in and out of the office.

BDO’s survey shows that core digital tools for this new reality address knowledge sharing, online training, webinars, and digital meeting and collaboration. Furthermore, solutions for  paperless working, digital signatures, digital file-sharing and external storage of documents play central roles.

Simultaneously, social dynamics are evolving. For example, more employees – and potential candidates - are migrating to areas further from main offices. Finding ways to accommodate such dynamics is critical due to ongoing talent shortages.

Changing locations?

During the pandemic BDO opened a number of new offices at remote locations. The goals include supporting colleagues moving away from overheated housing market in capitals and main cities to live in more affordable, larger accommodations in the countryside and in houses with home office rooms.

In line with this, many BDO firms adopted policies to support home office facilities.

BDO’s new offices also help provide a regional hub for training, collaboration and conferences and the ability to tap into new potential resources of staff in regions with less competition.

Download BDO Global Workplace Survey Report