Camira discuss the future of the workplace with Hotbox

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What do you think the impact might be on typical (9-5) office working in a post pandemic world?

In our opinion, this could be the demise of the hourly attendance driven 9-5 workplace. It’s time to stop measuring employee output by face time, this is a relic from the past. A more flexible culture that is built on trust and empowering responsibility across the workforce is the future. Naturally, this requires a shift in management style or culture, but this pandemic has proven that businesses need to be more flexible and resilient.

While we enjoy the social and creative interaction a physical workplace can bring, we have also realized that for many of us working in highly populated urban cities, we don’t need the stress and expense of the commute into a crowded workplace every day. The technology exists to allow us to work anywhere now, why go back? 

What will the look and feel of offices be like?

As we transition into our 'new normalilty', the new office workplace will have to be more flexible, less crowded and importantly, easy to clean.

High density co-working or hot desking spaces will just not be acceptable, employees will want to feel confident and secure that the desk or space they are going to work at is safe, hygienic and “theirs” for the day or week. This doesn’t necessarily mean a return to dedicated desks - new building density rules would make this impractical, however this could be achieved by using smart desk management systems. 

At the end of the working day,  it will be vital to implement a clear desk policy so that both above and below the desks can be cleaned thoroughly. Each employee will have their own work tools like keyboard, mouse etc that they will need to transport and stow away in their own personal safe space. 

How do you foresee office culture changing as we emerge into our new normal?

This is a really interesting question. Office culture pre-pandemic could be quite hierarchical and “cliquey”. It was easy for groups and boundaries to form. At the moment, with everyone having to communicate via video conference, we have seen a great levelling of cultures. We seem to be more human, more honest and actually more connected on a personal level.

As time has gone on, we spend more time at the beginning of the meeting just chatting, finding out more about each other and dissolving boundaries. By talking to each other more, we are humbler and understanding of each other’s circumstances. We are more flexible. Post-pandemic; can we maintain this?

Moving on from the idea of colleagues feeling more connected on a personal level, how do you envisage 'wellness in the workplace' developing as a trend?

I hope that the focus is on a general acceptance that we all need to be healthier and lead less stressful lives. Whether this is by reducing uncomfortably long commutes during rush hour or by eradicating the feeling of being obliged to be “at work” from 9-5, it should be about work life balance. We have all been deeply affected by this pandemic and many people are very fearful about returning to the workplace. We need to rebuild office morale and instil confidence. Mental health will be very important, balancing the safety of working remotely with extended isolation.

How do you think enforced homeworking might impact key decision makers' pre-pandemic opinions on this? 

Pre-pandemic, there was seemingly great scepticism that remote working en masse would not work. How could you trust people to actually work? Some organisations feel they need to “see” their employees. But the biggest ever home working experiment has worked, technology is alloweng us to work where we like and when we like. Businesses are carrying on regardless.

Perhaps a lot of organizations in densely packed cities with expensive real estate will now see this as an opportunity to keep and expand more flexible home and nomadic working practices, which benefit both them and their employees.

As a brand centred on agile working, what are your best pieces of advice for those struggling to adapt to this new way of working?

A lot of people have struggled to adapt so rapidly to this new way of working so the first thing to note is, you're not on your own. It is a whole new way of working that requires you and your employer to think carefully about your relationship. Perhaps the most important things are to:

  • Be organized, make sure you have the tools you need to hand so you are not distracted and frustrated trying to find things.
  • Be prepared, manage your time and team expectations.
  • Be honest with yourself and realistic with your workload goals. Assess what you can do that day and when you achieve it, don’t feel pressured to start other tasks.
  • Be focused, avoid distractions.
  • Be mindful and understanding of other people’s circumstances and time limitations. They may have children at home.
  • Be open, if you have a problem - share it.
And finally, for those still figuring out how to adjust their workspace and culture to suit the new requirements, what would your advice be?
Our brand ethos is built on the belief that having the freedom to work efficiently wherever you are is the key to better productivity and wellbeing.

Since founding Hotbox in 2003, we have seen seismic shifts in the workplace, witnessing the impact of major advances in technology and the cultural impact of work / life balance approaches. While flexible working began as a '90s trend, it has fast become the working norm.

Today, how we use and stow away our personal things in the workplace is under scrutiny like never before, with an increasing number of employees being asked to work flexibly since the Covid-19 pandemic. In the push to get offices ready for the return to the workplace, the process of simplifying needs to take place. Decluttering, removing unnecessary furniture and digitising and archiving documents will create cleaner, adaptable spaces.

The use of space overall will be affected, either with businesses reducing floor space and organising their team between home and office working, or by using their space in different ways. Floors that currently have densely arranged desking could be rearranged to accommodate different activities that enhance wellbeing, such as exercise or relaxation areas and places to discuss and collaborate that respect social distancing.

If we are to stagger our arrival and departure time to the office, why not stay longer and use the office for another activity? Consider blurring the boundaries between work and play to avoid offices from feeling too corporate. Encourage employees to mix up work with exercise; spend time discussing ideas with others before returning home to work independently. For us, the disruption of the workplace and the potential other use of floor space is a very exciting prospect.

Through sharing our time and working efficiently in different places as opposed to adhering to old-fashioned "presenteeism", we can carry ourselves towards a healthier and more balanced way of life.

To see how Hotbox products can help you take a more agile approach to working, visit their website.
Both Hotbox2 and Hotbox3 products are made using sustainable Camira fabrics. 
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LinkedIn: @hotbox-storage-ltd