Is the “Office Paradigm” Dying?

One of the rules for creating content for blogs or podcasts is to avoid topics that put a time stamp on the content. This article however is going to break that rule this time. Ultimately the content of blogs and podcasts is shaped by and created for the times we are living in. Significant events like the global coronavirus pandemic infiltrate every facet of our lives.

Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, is quoted as saying “Anywhere the struggle is great, the level of ingenuity and inventiveness is high”. Taking this statement at face value, it is quite likely that the current “level of ingenuity and inventiveness” globally is at the highest level it has possibly ever been.

Businesses have had to change a lot very quickly, simply to survive. Normal and long accepted ways of conducting business have died instantly without us having a choice in the matter. For example, when engaging with new clients, the norm would involve face-to-face meetings. Now online meetings are the only option for the majority of businesses. Businesses and individuals also have to now adopt options which previously were not deemed the best way to do business or were considered as only applicable for certain industries or types of business. For example, some businesses embraced flexible working hours and work-from-home employees before the crisis arrived. Now many businesses are forced to adopt this model.

This is where the “inventiveness and ingenuity” during “struggles” comes in. It is interesting that many businesses are considering keeping remote working in some form beyond this crisis. These businesses are making some of the temporary changes more permanent, like renegotiating office leases, renegotiating conditions of employment and implementing more permanent technology solutions to support this model.

Now this article is certainly not suggesting ‘one-size-fits-all’ for remote working. The nature of this model does not suit many businesses and industries. However, there are business owners who have gone this route because they didn’t have a choice but they have seen the possible benefits of extending the approach into the future. Remote working employees spend less time travelling to and from the workplace each day and therefore can spend more time with their loved ones, whilst still doing the work required of them. In some cases employees are even more productive. Businesses have made changes which come at an expense to accommodate remote working employees, but they are also seeing savings which in some cases exceed the new expenses. The overhead savings in office space is often greater than the addition expense of the technology solution which enables remote work. Travel allowances and claims reimbursed to employees for business travel is also reduced and can easily outweigh the cost of online meeting platforms.

It is early days in this global health and economic crisis and no-one really knows exactly what the future will look like. Perhaps the world will return back to its original state? There is a lot of evidence to suggest this will not be the case, and there is enough for us to consider the question:

Is the “Office Paradigm” Dying?