Covid-19 is inextricably linked to rapid and categorical changes in the lives of companies. In the last few months we have experienced an acceleration of various measures and decisions and we have witnessed, with some uncertainty, new realities.
One of them, quite evident, is related to the size of the offices / headquarters of many companies. With the advent of remote work - imposed in the first phase due to confinement and made optional more recently - administrations realized that, after all, it is possible to work with less square meters available, with fewer employees simultaneously in the office and, obviously , with other forms of communication.
Many of these companies are already looking for new offices, smaller and aligned with the new reality that is, as we have already seen, the new present / future: remote work will become more popular and many of us will work every week, for at least at least a few days, from home - or from another location we choose.
Offices with no designated places or offices assigned are not a new reality. THE hot desking it is common practice in many companies around the world, as well as remote work. In such a way that companies like Yahoo, Bank of America and IBM adopted it in the past and, after some years, decided to retreat in the decision. But there we go. What is curious is that this concept was, for several years, associated (perhaps wrongly) with technological companies, with very informal environments and functions that allowed it.
I'm not going to focus on the pros and cons of hot desking and remote work, but rather on the challenges that this poses - from the moment that this decision is made and our office becomes practically anywhere - in terms of Communication.
It is scientifically proven that we are social creatures and, as such, we have to live and have relationships with other people, even when physically distant. The secret lies in contradicting one of the conclusions of MIT that said in a study that "physical distance can become psychological distance". We also know that the human being is creative and that he likes to contribute to what is new and impactful.
With this in mind, what we have to do is combine the flexibility associated with work and the way we communicate with employees internally and also with other audiences. All of this in a theoretically easy-to-solve equation: with high levels of engagement, maintaining the culture, making all updates about the business, ensuring that everyone remains virtually connected to each other.
To paraphrase some football coaches, it will be necessary to maintain, through virtual platforms, morale on the rise. This new reality will certainly please the younger generations, with different needs from previous generations: they are used to the virtual environment and to less physical contact, with marked and rigid schedules. On the other hand, the era of coffee in the company's cafeteria, the 'good morning' in the elevator, the debate of ideas face to face and the reading of the body language of our interlocutor are and will be different from now on.
Likewise, product promotions that occurred in companies, the offer of the juice can or the new product that rejuvenates the skin at low cost, left on the desk of each employee, will necessarily have another approach. Brand activations; the events, the town halls; team meetings; the big house ads. It seems to me, honestly, that we will have a new reality. In fact, we are already experiencing this new reality in national companies. THE mobile devices, with all its breadth, will have an essential mission.
There is a fundamental aspect in this whole equation that should focus a good part of our attention, which are the neurological stimuli that the physical office creates - in the various interactions and rituals that I have already described. If we think that companies that have returned or will return to the office will only have a percentage of their employees present, that stimulus may be lost and, with it, the liveliness of our employees.
There are already studies that show that hours in front of a computer, in calls endless, create fatigue and wear. TED Talks only last 18 minutes because after that time our brain shuts down. The need to narrow the distance between the virtual and the real must find a middle ground, with a balance that, on the one hand, encourages greater productivity, less absenteeism and greater predisposition and, on the other hand, avoids loneliness, lack of collaboration and / or communication.
The smaller office, with a higher turnover of its employees, will lead to more internal platforms and means of communication available - internal television channels, internal social networks, among other digital platforms. Internal communications, instead of targeting all employees at once, will have to be segmented, just as we do in external campaigns. We will have several internal audiences, with different profiles and characteristics, starting with the different times / days that will be present at the office.
It was the difficulty in this management and in the narrowing between the physical and the virtual (among other aspects) that led the giants worldwide that I mentioned earlier, with a lot of communication experience and big budgets, to retreat in the theme of remote work and in the way communicated internally, returning to a, let's say, more traditional scenario. That is, more in person. But there are also many cases around the world that live well with physical distance and the absence of an office!
It may seem like an almost common-sense conclusion, but the learning of which will be essential: there will be forms / formats of communication and interaction that will result in some companies and not others. The flexibility of Communication, of innovation, of the way we keep internal stakeholders involved, interested and not bored or tired will be the secret. Another is to counteract the tendency to communicate only through a click: communicating with a click does not mean that one click is enough for something to reach the other side. Let us remember the essential formula: Captivate, Engage, Satisfy (Attract, Engage, Delight).