Will Remote Work Be the New Normal? What Will Happen to the Physical Office?

Will remote work be the new normal and make the millions of square feet of physical offices already built obsolete? What will happen to physical offices in remote-first companies?

Will Remote Work Be the New Normal? What Will Happen to the Physical Office?




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Despite what many think, remote work isn't new.

It has just become immensely more popular due to the biggest global event in recent memory. That’s all. In the beginning, remote work was exciting. Now, it’s become almost mundane. 

Companies want remote teams. People working for them also want it. It's pretty clear: remote is the future of work.

However there’s a big question still remaining. What does this mean for the millions of square feet of physical office space that we have been cherishing for the last years. Does this mean that we no longer have use for physical offices? Will remote work be the new normal, leaving physical offices in past?

What Is a Remote-First Company?

At its core, a remote-first company is where the team members work from home (or anywhere else) full time. That's it. There are no limitations on what you can do or how you can do it as long as the job gets done.

That type of company replaces the traditional workplace where everyone comes into an office and works together. As we can see from hundreds of examples out there, they can easily work. In fact, they often work better.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Team members perform better when comfortable.
  • There are no distractions from teammates (or office politics).
  • You can hire the best team members, regardless of location.
  • Team members have a better work-life balance.
  • There's no need for expensive office space.
  • Money can be reinvested in other parts of the business (salary, benefits)

These reasons (and many more) are why remote-first companies are rising. In fact, they've been growing in popularity for years. You have companies like Buffer, Zapier, and GitHub. Their teams have been enjoying the remote work life for at least 5 years. 

These are all companies that have fully embraced the remote work model and have found success. And they're not the only ones.

Remote-Friendly vs. Remote-First 

Now, there are two types of companies when it comes to remote work: remote-friendly and remote-first. More than two-thirds of white-collar Americans work in a company that uses one of these models.

Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, these types of companies are not the same. 

The difference is simple:.

  • A remote-friendly company is okay with people working from home occasionally. They might have a physical office, but it's not mandatory to go there every day.
  • A remote-first company is one where people work from home (or anywhere) full time. Some may have physical offices, but no one is required to work from them.

The last thing we mentioned is extremely important. Yes, some remote-first companies often have dedicated offices for their teams. However, these are not mandatory to go to - they're just there for people who want (or need) to use them.

Are Physical Offices Becoming Obsolete?

The answer to this question is a little complicated.

On the one hand, yes, physical offices are becoming obsolete. They're no longer necessary for companies to function properly. In fact, in many cases, they're a hindrance when you can simply design a virtual office that will inspire just as much spontaneity and collaboration between team members.

On the other hand, no, physical offices are not becoming obsolete. There will always be a need for them - even in a remote-first world. The reason for this is simple: people are social creatures. We like to be around other people. We like to see their faces and interact with them.

That's not going to change anytime soon.

And because of that, physical offices will always have a place in the workplace. They're just not going to be as common as they are now. 

What’s So Great Bout Face-to-Face Interactions?

There's no denying that physical offices have drawbacks, but it doesn’t mean meeting in person is completely unnecessary. 

In fact, there are plenty of advantages to meeting in person as it helps build trust faster, even in a remote-first world. Here are a few benefits of meeting in person:

Team Collaboration

Collaboration is much easier when you can see the other person. You can get a better understanding of their ideas and how they work. When people aren’t in the same room, you can't see what the other person is doing, and you can't ask them questions in real-time.

That’s one of the main reasons why physical offices are becoming obsolete. With so many communication tools at our disposal, there's no need to be in the same room as someone to collaborate with them.

Easier Training

Another benefit of a physical office is that it's easier to train new team members. When you're new to a company, the last thing you want is to be thrown into the deep end. You need time to acclimate to your new surroundings and learn the ropes.

In a virtual space, this is impossible because you can't just go up to someone and ask them a question. You need to be able to do that in person.

Small Talk

This may not seem like something major, but trust us, it certainly is. Small talk is often overlooked in digital communications, but talking during a coffee break can help your team come together as a whole, and bond on a much deeper level.

Furthermore, small talk helps team members find common interests and develop relationships that transcend work. 

Enjoy the Benefits of a Physical Office (Without Having One)

The benefits of working together in a physical environment are immense. Yes. How can you get these benefits without actually having an office?

There are a few ways of doing this…

Provide Coworking Access as a Perk

Coworking spaces are rented office spaces that people use when they need to get work done outside of their homes. The beauty of these is that you only pay for the days you use them. There has been a massive increase in the last two years of options. 

Many remote teams now give access to teammates to use whenever works best. Everyone has a different use for the coworking space:

  • Some people want a simple change of scenery
  • Others use coworking spaces to get away from home and focus
  • Just some use it to mellow out and grab a cup of coffee with teammates

Coworking spaces are now more accessible than ever with subscription-based services like WeWork All-Access and pay-as-you-go programs such as WeWork On Demand or Hubble HQ.

Have an Actual Physical Office Used for Coworking

Are most of your teammates located in a single city? You can have a dedicated space where all of them can come together, brainstorm, and simply hang around to talk about work. However, make sure to explain that the office is a place where they can work from, OPTIONALLY. 

Having an optional remote office will affect the way you design it. For example, you need to include more social and coworking areas, have private rooms where your teammates can make calls, and have fewer personal offices.  

Engineer Ways for People to Meet in Person

You don’t need to have a coworking space - it may not be in your budget - but you still need to find ways to motivate people to meet in person. You can, for example, pick a cafe in a few cities where you have multiple team members and have them meet every few days for lunch. 

Some people offer fully expensed lunches that incentivize people to meet in person. No matter the method, your main objective is for people to meet face-to-face every few days, rather than spending every day on Zoom or their phone. 

Once you've found a few of these meeting places, all you have to do is rotate between them.

Organize Quarterly Events in Different Cities

If you want your people to start trusting each other right away, you should consider hosting quarterly events. These events don’t cost too much - you can always use the physical space to host them - and they need to happen only few times a year (well, four times, to be exact).

If you want to change things up, you can always rent a cool new space - museum galleries aren’t that expensive and make for a great experience - and have your gathering there. 

And why not spice it up and change cities every time? These events can be anything from team-building exercises to company retreats. The key is to make sure that everyone has a good time and feels like they're part of the team.

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

So, what's the takeaway from all this?

Will remote work be the new normal in the next few years? Yup. Pretty much so. 

The world might be going remote, but offices aren't actually going anywhere. They do have their drawbacks, but they also have a lot of benefits.

Luckily, with virtual offices like Kosy, you can have the best of both worlds. The pros of a virtual space combine all the benefits of a physical office without all the drawbacks.

Kosy gives you all the tools for remote work you’ll ever need, allows you to collaborate, and creates an atmosphere that feels like a real office.

If you want to give Kosy a try, contact us today, and request a demo.

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