The Irish Times Special Report – Future of Work

Niamh O’Brien, Director of BDO Talent Management and Joe Quinn, Chief People Officer contributed to the Irish Times Future of Work Special Repot.

A whole new world (of work)

With all the changes that Covid wreaked on the world, how — and where — people work is one area that has fundamentally and perhaps irreversibly been affected. Are these changes likely to last or will the world revert to working full-time in the office again?

Niamh explores how work has changed since the pandemic and what the future holds.

One of the most fundamental changes is the move towards remote and/or hybrid operating models., “Everything I am seeing would indicate that hybrid working is here to stay,” she says. “The benefits of a flexible working model have been experienced by the wider workforce and companies in the main have now material proof that a flexible working model does not have to impact employee and teams’ performance.”

It’s not just about where people work though. “We are also seeing new levels of flexibility. It is no longer just about days in the office or days working from home: we are seeing flexible start and finish times, staggered starts to the working day and a more outcome-based approach to working.”

“There is a new focus on what tasks are best suited to home working and what type of work is best in the office environment. Collaboration, training, coaching and networking are all focused in office time, while more focused administration tasks are being completed at home.”


New office space demands are reversing previous trends

As ergonomic furniture is no longer as important as hybrid working, and hot desking more prevalent, Joe stargazes into the future and sees VR goggles allowing people to work from home and virtually walk to work and their virtual offices.

“But that is quite some time away yet, in the immediate future offices will change to become a place to come to do specific activities,” he says. “Offices will continue to be open plan, but with more ‘fly in, fly out’ desks to cater for people coming in for short periods of time or for one-off activities.”

He also believes the modern office will go far greener, with better bike/scooter and shower facilities. Also, rooftop or internal gardens for staff wellness.

“I’d say we will see a bigger use of rooftop solar and even water capture. Staff will continue to be interested in lowering their carbon footprint, and companies will need to show this in the workplace. I also think forward-looking companies will try to use their offices to promote employee purpose, so maybe use their spaces for volunteer work and the like,” he concludes.

For more information on how BDO Talent Management can help your business navigate the future of work, visit our page for an outline of our practical solutions.

Content adapted from the Irish Times Future of Work Special Report.

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