The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be the question we all want answered. As the crisis unfolds, businesses need to be prepared for what’s next.
Office buildings have been the heart of business since the start of free enterprise making iconic statements — the list of architecturally distinguished office buildings around the world is endless. You can also learn a lot about a business just by sitting in their reception for a minute or two — from how it fosters the flow of ideas, to how it embraces its culture, to how it breeds success.
But today, businesses around the world have had to dispense with its spaces for long periods and those important contributors to a company identity have been abandoned overnight. We may never see them return to the same scale.
Other factors that make a company distinctive like its offer, its brand and experiences, and its culture come from its people. But a more enduring strand of a company should come from its vision, values and purpose. Most companies have one of these — some all three. But they should be long lasting, distinct guides that capture what a company is all about.
It may be surprising to some how easy it’s been for some companies to function in a virtual workplace. These have been the ones that have had a strong sense of identity and culture within their organisations. So in that sense the physical location hasn’t been as vital as we all thought and work cultures can be maintained and even built through remote working. This proves that the strongest cultures are the ones where the employees develop an internal sense of their company’s identity and even more importantly, what behaviours are or aren’t true to that company and what makes it distinctive.
The role of the workplace is being reimagined to allow businesses to care for its people, while stabilising and even growing its operation. They can also embrace digital tools and reimagine work practices in a secure, reliable, future-ready model and be empowered to continue making a difference today and for years to come.
At Affinity we’re embracing this change — designing a new way of working that suits everyone from our clients and our people.
We see ourselves as the largest multi-disciplined agency you could ever work with — as well as the smallest. Put simply, our virtual model means we don’t exist in a physical space. So instead of having a state-of-the-art studio in a swanky part of town (that client’s pay for), our workspace happens to be spread out in shared spaces and homes around the world.
This approach allows us to custom-build our offer with a bespoke team of specialists that deliver what’s right for the client — not our own agenda!
Whilst you can not beat a face-to-face meeting, presentation or workshop, a virtual workplace can still fulfil the need for connection, collaboration and belonging. With responsible leadership, businesses can take on an even deeper meaning, as workforces and customers find themselves in an unfamiliar, fast-moving global environment. Leading with compassion and caring for our people and communities is more essential than ever.
We don’t yet know what the full effect will be as more and more companies will become virtual businesses, but when the workplace is suddenly no more, there will be impact.
What is clear is that the workplace will not be the same again. Flexible working was already on the agenda in boardrooms prompting the likes of WeWork going through phenomenal growth, more people requesting to occasionally work from home, and some reducing their working hours for a better work, life, balance.