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The Future of Work – Where will we be working in the future?

Danny Hicks, Blue Door Programme Manager at O2, introduces O2 Business’ new whitepaper focused on three key future of work themes.

This week sees the launch of O2 Business’ new whitepaper: ‘Talent, tools and space: New workplace strategies for a dynamic working world’. A few days ago I met up with a couple of my colleagues to talk about one of the three themes that the whitepaper addresses: Places. I wanted their views on where we will be working in the future. How are organisations rethinking about where people are able to be their best?

Listen to the Blue Door Podcast, episode 17: ‘Future of work: Places. How organisations are rethinking about where people are able to be their best.’

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Chris Early is the Estate and Development Manager for Telefónica UK. He is responsible for our own approach to what a lot of organisations are referring to as ‘return to office planning’ – and for Chris, it isn’t as simple as introducing new safety measures, opening the doors and expecting the working day to return to normal:

“We need to be sure that as we go through the phases that government has laid out, we’re ready for the gradual uptick in numbers. We must be able to deal with the short term issues while social distancing persists. For example, we need to allow for more socially distanced meetings, possibly on an open plan basis.”

“We’re in a slightly different situation to many organisations because we’ve been working in a hybrid way for about a decade already. However, we do expect to see less use of offices overall, in all of the scenarios that we’ve modelled. The results of the recent O2 business survey have also been factored into our thinking, and we have taken the decision to tread carefully, and refrain from making large scale physical changes until we see the patterns of use as more people start to come back in.”

Incidentally, you can download and read the research report that Chris referred to. It’s called Creating a dynamic workforce: Empowering employees for productivity and growth.

Lucy Clayton, Head of Business Thought Leadership at O2, agreed with Chris that the findings of the research report makes it challenging to be certain about what space is required, and how it will be used.

“The research considered what’s needed from a culture and mindset to meet the changing expectations of employees. The challenge for organisations of all sizes is that the research revealed 32% of people never want to go to an office again, whilst 28% of people surveyed will only work for an organisation that does have an office.”

The results point to a need for flexibility, with 85% of those questioned wanting flexible working hours in future. It points to a compelling case for the hybrid approach to work and workspaces, and it’s one that many organisations are likely to adopt.

With flexibility comes uncertainty, however. Our discussion moved on to seek answers to several key questions:

  • What impact will flexibility have on the business?
  • From an operations perspective, how do you accommodate people who want to be in the office really early? Or potentially late at night?
  • What does that mean for utilities, energy, lighting?
  • What about the impact on sustainability?

You can listen to the whole discussion in Episode 17 of the Blue Door Podcast. You can stream, download or subscribe to the podcast here.

You can also access all three white papers, considering the three core areas to enable a dynamic workforce:

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