After all, do employees want to go back to the office?
Angela Anthoulaki, Co-Founder and Chief People & Culture Officer of Papaki company where teleworking has been implemented since 2016:
Exactly one year ago we were talking about teleworking and how it can be applied to companies that have never done it before. We gave examples from our own experience in Papaki, where already in 2016 we had effectively implemented the model of semi-remote work. Who would have thought that a year later teleworking would have been established for good in our lives and would have become necessary for a large number of companies in Greece as well?
But how did we manage it and what did all this teach us? What are the work trends that prevail with the new data?
After teleworking what?
From our experience at Papaki, from the global market but also from conversations with various recruiters, we see that the full remote work model is not necessarily ideal: you gain something and you lose something. An important factor to evaluate in the full remote model is that the sense of team, human contact and communication is lost, which is the most important for all of us - especially after so many months without socializing. So what sounds like it will prevail in the next period is a more personalized work model. This means that on days when the employee will feel more comfortable and more productive at home, he will be able to choose to work from there. On the other hand, if some days he feels the need to socialize or has distractions in his home, he will be able to choose the office.
The ideal working model
We see that what tends to prevail is a hybrid work model, ie some days from home and some from a workplace. A major survey by the University of Chicago showed that 72% of employees prefer such a model. Only 13% would choose to work exclusively at home, if they had the choice of office.
One trend that we see gaining ground is the shared office space, ie the "cohabitation" of companies in one workplace, but with individual offices. Papaki has just been transferred to the hub of the Science and Technology Park of Crete (EIB-K) at FORTH. We also follow another trend - always observing the protection measures - that of "hot desking" where employees do not have their own specific job but sit in any office available. This is because in a hybrid work model the team members come to the office only a few days a week, so it does not make sense to have one job per person.
In these more personalized work models there is even more flexibility and choices in the schedule but also in the way that suits each person personally according to his needs. Working conditions improve while the company gains in bonding between members but also in strengthening the corporate culture.
What new did we do at Papaki in telework this year
Initially, we institutionalized the creation of a good work from home setup. In other words, we send our members all the equipment they need to set up a functional and comfortable office in their home. We have already used the tools we had to stay in constant and close contact with our teams (Slack, Google meet, gather.town and daily meetings). Also, once a month we do our Town Hall meeting, ie all members meet together and discuss the company news and what concerns them.
We also added "virtual cocktail nights" to be out of work as much as we can, even online. Finally, we used the donut app that makes random couples through the company to drink a digital coffee and get to know each other better. With the same reasoning as the "Water Cooler questions": someone starts a fun question in Slack and the whole team answers from below, as we would catch a chat in the offices if we meet in the… water cooler. In addition, wanting to psychologically support our employees this During such a difficult period, we offered an open, free and anonymous line of psychological support with specialists.
Ultimately, what we observe after a whole year of lockdown and teleworking, is that human contact is essential in the workplace at the level of a well-functioning team. Teleworking can increase employee productivity and satisfaction, but only when he chooses the ideal office-teleworking mix. In the way global trends are shaped by the prevalence of the semi-remote work model, we understand that employees look forward to returning to the office and socializing with their colleagues. But given that they have the option to work from home a few days a week.