The process of welcoming people back to the office will not happen overnight, and the reality is that we will be ‘welcoming’ people back for the coming months with a fluid approach that will continue to adjust and adapt.
Questions are being asked, both at board and individual levels about what the return to the office should look like. We are all questioning some of the long-established practices of work and this is providing a real opportunity to reassess how work gets done and the best locations to do it in.
Before the pandemic JLL was already advising clients on how the workplace needed to adapt to the changing need of the workforce – to evolve into a place that promoted creativity and collaboration, fostered health and wellbeing, and incorporated key sustainability principles. We understand that we have a unique insight into offices. For us, this is not just about ensuring we get it right for our people, we will also be advising other occupiers on what works for their people. And, as we all know, there is no one size fits all approach.
Like any large-scale organisation, JLL is made up of different teams, all dealing with complex demands from the business, their clients and each other. We want to empower teams to choose a way of working that allows them to balance these demands.
Many would agree that presenteeism has never been an effective method of working in terms of productivity, job satisfaction or motivation, but up until the pandemic it was still part of the corporate landscape for some. Now we have the opportunity to ensure that this outdated mentality is consigned to history as we fully embrace the idea that we can be ‘present’ wherever we are.
Offering a flexible approach
One of the key approaches we have introduced at JLL is Flex for your day. This is a way of working that has been designed for our people to choose what works best for them, the business and their clients and flex accordingly. We understand that not everyone wants to work in the same way and that personal commitments also play a part in shaping the working week.
The best way to support hybrid working at scale is to offer people a flexible approach to work that focuses much more on trust than on rules.
Flexibility empowers colleagues, drives performance and enables trust. Providing it to employees allows those with different commitments to make decisions that work best for them. Celebrating and fully understanding the different commitments of our diverse workforce will deliver an environment that fosters flexible approaches to work. This will help make greater strides towards achieving equality, retaining our people and attracting the best talent.
The role of the office
Undoubtedly, the office will continue to play an important part in how effective we are and remains the best place to bring teams and clients together. It’s also where we learn from others and help colleagues to develop.
In order for the office to continue to play this fundamental role there will be some reimagining and reconfiguring of the physical workplace. The workplace is one theatre among several in which work takes place and a commitment to flexibility will mean that on average, our people are likely to spend less time there than they did previously. Therefore, we need to create environments within the office that focus more purposefully on collaboration, creativity, socialising, learning and other tasks that are difficult to do at home.
We are working hard to respond to these changes, across both our existing portfolio of workplaces and new spaces which we have committed to at both 1 Broadgate in the City of London and 20 Water Street at Canary Wharf.
As we return to the office from this ‘once in a century’ event we know that our strategies will continue to evolve but that we can bring a fresh perspective to how we work. Keeping our people safe and providing them with the support they need to thrive and succeed is important and we can best do this by keeping an open dialogue about what works for them. Ultimately, they are the ones that are making this new approach work and they have so many innovative ideas – I’m excited to see what comes next.