DEEP WORK: The Problem
The Industrial age took us from the farm to the factory. Education took us from the factory to the office. Technology has taken us from the office to the virtual.
At this point it is obvious – our work will never be the same. There are so many ways in which it can be different. Right now is the once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine everything about how we do our jobs. It’s time to work differently.
Companies are on the lookout for tools that will keep their remote employees productive and mentally stable. In October 2020, Slack (the software company) performed research of 4,700 knowledge workers to evaluate their experience with working remotely. They found that the majority never want to go back to the old way of working. Only 12% want to return to full-time office work, and 72% want a hybrid remote-office model moving forward.
A knowledge worker is anyone who holds an office position and/or works with data, analyzes information or thinks creatively in a typical workweek.
According to research, executives, middle managers and self-employed find it challenging to find quiet time to work, suitable places to hold meetings, and strategies to keep children and other family members occupied.
For people with and those without children, the top challenges of remote work include feeling overwhelmed by non-work-related things as well as difficulty staying focused and avoiding distractions. Also, many found it challenging to find stable Wi-Fi and maintain working relationships.
Top challenges of working from home
- Unstable Wi-Fi or internet access
- Maintaining and building working relationships with colleagues
- Staying focused and avoiding distractions
- Feelings of loneliness or isolation
- Keeping up with what others are working on
“Difficulty staying focused and avoiding distractions was reported by 22% of global knowledge workers and was a top concern for both those with and without children.“, (team of Slack, October 7, 2020)
Rather than asking when workers will return to the office, companies should be asking what the office of the future will look like. It’s time to focus on new solutions. We need to create environments that improve not only productivity but also employee well-being.
So, if the majority of people are not going back full-time to the office, but also won’t be staying at home full-time – what is the future of workspaces? We need to explore options beyond the ‘one-size-fits-all’ office solution. With Covid-19, we’re rethinking how we design and use our office spaces. We have the opportunity to re-invent our workspaces, placing an emphasis on virtual events. What if you could have access to inspiring workplace locations designed and built specifically for different tasks and projects – wherever you are.
There is no more commute to the office. Thank God! However, we are now challenged with creating a home-work environment that keeps distractions away and allows us to be productive at our jobs. It’s not easy, especially for those with families and kids. In addition, there are so many days a week that you can endure the working from home. No matter how great your home office is, you need to get out. We need a dedicated space for work or study. A place, completely free from distractions, where we can focus and feel productive. A place, where we can find peace of mind and concentrate. If we feel productive at work, we are happy with ourselves. When we are happy – the people around are happy. However, distractions negatively impact or cognitive performance and well overall job satisfaction.
We don’t want to commute and luckily for us – we don’t have to anymore. The dream came true. We are free from a single destination. A lot of people are moving away from downtown into suburban areas. We need to pay close attention to the growing trend of mid-density, urban-suburban – or “surban” – locations. Many Americans are contemplating moving to less densely populated areas.
According to Forbes: ”Within New York City, for example, you’re seeing an explosion of demand to stay within the metro area but move nearby, to suburbs in Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. The same story is happening in San Francisco, with people moving to the East Bay and other nearby suburbs.”
Businesses now begin to realize the importance of optimizing the work conditions and understand that the individual that has been hired for some sort of knowledge work will perform much better in the environment that supports him or her. Therefore, businesses that employ knowledge workers will be forced to consider the optimization of work conditions at an individual level. Ultimately, businesses will need to create digital workplaces that make it easier for all kinds of employees to work in flexible environments while also living their lives.
As video conferencing technology evolves, the need to go to the office will decrease. There will be demand for workplaces that support seamless live streaming and video conferencing – this is the must have.
Now is the time for a change. I want to build a new type of workspace that will provide knowledge workers with the right tools to get the job done. I see no way around this issue. I propose a new kind of service for knowledge workers: a dedicated distraction-free workspace for deep focused work.
Moving beyond remote: Workplace transformation in the wake of Covid-19. (2020). Retrieved 30 October 2020, from https://slack.com/intl/en-ca/blog/collaboration/workplace-transformation-in-the-wake-of-covid-19
New Yorkers Are Fleeing to the Suburbs: ‘The Demand Is Insane’. (2020). Retrieved 30 October 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/nyregion/nyc-suburbs-housing-demand.html