Leadership

50 Shades Of Flex: Disrupting the Dichotomous Idea of Workspaces – Part-1

Ever so often, we accept dichotomy in our way-of-thinking to better understand things around us. Segmenting people as Introverts/Extroverts, Liberals/Conservatives, choices as Right or Wrong and behavior as Good or Bad makes it easier for us to decide on one path and stick to it.

This is why when we transitioned from a complete in-office work culture to a complete remote set-up at the onset of the pandemic, our need for dichotomous thinking convinced us that either of these two options is what the future of our workplace would look like.

What we then failed to understand was that these were just two extremes of a spectrum of choices waiting to be unlocked by patrons of flex work everywhere.

This journey of organisations from a completely bipolar view of what offices could & should be to appreciating the myriad shades of an interesting term called “Flex” has been quite the roller-coaster ride. Let us take a walk down this lane and find out how it unfolded?

ACT 1 | Scene 1

Bring-Your-Own-Office To Work: When We Danced To The Tunes Of The Pandemic

At the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and overnight, it changed our entire perception of what offices were and invited us to a BYOO scene, attendance was mandatory. Whether it was our bed, study, dining table, balcony, neighbours’ house, or even in some cases the walk-in closet, we needed to plug in our laptops and show up to work.

We heard the overjoyed workforce sharing their experiences of how work-from-home brought with it a range of comforts including more time for family, personal, and home affairs. The successful adoption of work-from-home debunked fears and theories of reduced productivity and poor collaboration across industries over time.

 

ACT 1 | Scene 2

Enter Languishing: When this party came to an end and left everyone exhausted

However, like all good things, this was short-lived. Soon enough, thought leaders, opinion columns and social media experienced an impending hangover abuzz with ‘zoom fatigue’, ‘virtual hang-up’, ‘languished workforce’, ‘digital burnout’ et al. The downside of work-from-home became prominent with people voicing their woes on lack of distinction between personal and professional lives, the dilution of time-zones for inter-geographical teams and no real relationships with colleagues.

This welcomed the case for the only other option we knew – a complete return to the office. Many thought-leaders straight-out criticized work-from-home for its limited scope and maintained that however convenient, work-from-home wasn’t sustainable or even the new way-to-work.

 

ACT 1 | Scene 3

The Second Wave: When we were finally forced to think about a middle path

As decisions to bring the workforce back to office started gaining momentum in boardrooms, India among other nations was hit by the second wave of the COVID-19 virus. People scuttled back to their homes and a big question was raised on the future of the workplace, once again.

The severity of the impact of this wave left no one in any doubt that this dichotomous approach won’t work and in walked – FLEX.

ACT 2

A Change In Guard: How Flex Work Struck At The Dichotomy of Thinking and gave rise to so many questions!

As the overbearing pandemic eased, there was a new sheriff in town!

The fallacies of operating at either extreme ends of the spectrum- complete remote and complete-in office were out in the open for everyone to see. As these extremities were rejected in boardrooms as a sustainable way forward, the uncertainty opened doors to experimentation with different degrees of flex work.

And this brings us to our current situation- Flex Work is an evolving discipline at best presently. As both employees and management open up about their struggles in re-imagining a post-pandemic work culture, they are struggling with what the right questions to ask are and what are the factors that should influence the way forward. A few questions that most thought leaders are repeatedly asking are:

  • Productivity – Can sub-optimal infrastructure really lead to the desired level of productivity or does saving travel time make associates more productive?
  • Costs & Contracts – Can real estate move from a fixed cost to an operational cost on the P&L statements? Are long-term leases prudent in today’s world? Are huge investments in fancy main-office buildings required for the entire organisation or can the footprint be reduced to a smaller HO and smarter, flexible real estate solutions for the rest?
  • Culture – Will remote work with no team bonding dilute the culture that most top-tier organisations have fought so hard to build and preserve? Will an associate joining remotely never having physically met any other team member feel as strongly about the company as his / her counterparts?
  • Attracting & Retaining Top Talent – Will lack of peer learning impede the growth of associates making them more likely to look for other opportunities? Or, will not having remote as an option result in not being able to attract the best talent?
  • Job Function & Industry of operation – Are certain roles or certain industries more suited to remote work and will this create a divide in the organisation? Will there be irreparable long-term damage that we are not able to see now?

Changing the lens from dichotomous thinking is to answer these questions, reimagine the future of the workplace such that it brings together scattered employees through inclusive policies while shedding a one-size-fits-all approach.

But how can businesses deliver on the promise of building an inclusive, colourful and productive future? To find out, read Part 2 of the story here

myHQ is a venture-backed startup & India’s leading marketplace for flexible workspace solutions enabling users and corporates to work from any-where and in any-way they choose.

Utkarsh Kawatra, Co-founder, myHQ

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trending

ET Insights is an initiative of ET Edge that aims to build global business intelligence, and define future strategies for senior decision makers, ensuring they are equipped with the information and knowledge needed to respond to local and global growth opportunities and challenges.

CONTACT US

Call:

+91 998 747 0519

Email:

etunwired@etedge.com

Office:

Lotus corporate park, 7th floor F wing 702, Off, Western Express Highway, Geetanjali Railway Colony, Laxmi Nagar, Goregaon East Mumbai – 400063

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe us

© Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved. ET Edge an Economic Times Initiative.

To Top