22nd September 2020

Coming to work in the future


  • Dividing responsibilities based on location
  • Working at your best
  • Bigger and better offerings
  • Learnings and Insights from Jeri Ballard, Executive Vice President, Real Estate, Shell.

Over the last few months we have seen the way we work change dramatically, and as employers look to adapt their businesses to the ‘new normal’, work will not look like it did at the start of 2020.

It seems clear that whatever the reality of the future of the office, more flexible working will be an enduring trend. During these unprecedented times senior leaders tell us what they think the role of “coming to work” in the future will look like.

Michiel Bakker – Director, Global Workplace Services Programs, Google comments: “What we have learned is that we’re going to see further differentiation between those elements of work that can be done literally anywhere – at home, at work or on the go  – and those elements which you really believe you can do better physically together, such as brain storming sessions, project work and client interactions where it’s really about building trust. 

Dividing responsibilities based on location
“I think you’re going to have to think about the functions you’re responsible for, and out of those which ones you can do at home and which you need to be in the office with your colleagues for.  One of our broadest concerns is this notion that everyone gets to do whatever they want to do wherever, so it will require a more thoughtful and practical approach on what function you’re going to do during which part of your week.”

Working at your best
Sarah Morris – Group Chief People Officer, Compass Group, adds: I think one of the really important questions we need to ask ourselves is not just can you do your role from home. I think the vast majority of people in office-based roles say yes, but ‘do you do your best work at home.’ I think that’s a very different question. What we’ve learned is that there are very different answers from the same population because that ability to innovate and to build ideas and brainstorm is still really important to our businesses.” 

Differing drivers in the return to work
It’s clear that the need to come back into the office will also be very different for everyone. Jeri Ballard, Executive Vice President, Real Estate, Shell, comments: “We’ve got a lot of different drivers for why people want to come back in. For some people this is role led in terms of what they need access to, for some teams it depends on what types of challenges they’re facing and what’s best done collaboratively, face to face. We’re trying to focus on those people first in terms of who really needs to be back.”

Bigger and better offerings
Added to this, the environment that people are coming back to also needs to be considered, Bakker says: “I believe that amenities like food where you can experience something together will play a broader role. There needs to be something much bigger and better than you can find at home or in another environment.”

Making the return to work ‘work’
Ballard adds: “There’s a huge effort in making it safe for people to come back, so if you do a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I think we’ve been all over the bottom rung – ensuring it’s safe and secure in terms of sanitisers and everything’s marked out. But the whole experience has to work, especially for people who have to come back and work in the office, and food will play a part of that. We have to think through the whole experience because it’s already going to feel like a quasi-police state when they come back, ‘here are all the new rules and you have to follow them, and here’s what will happen if you don’t follow them!’ We’ve all got safe and secure down, but if the whole experience is so terrible that they keep trying to work from home, and being less productive, we need to think about how to go from the very clean and very clinical office to humanising things again.”

If you would like to talk to someone about how Compass can support your business as you face new challenges, please contact Jake Frank on +1-571-440-1712

“I believe that amenities like food where you can experience something together will play a broader role. There needs to be something much bigger and better than you can find at home or in another environment”.