Future of Work: Will traditional office life survive the pandemic?

In this episode of the podcast Future of Work, Newstalk‘s Jess Kelly and Gavin McLoughlin share their own experiences with remote working, and explore what might happen to cities, towns, and work culture generally if we continue working from home

24th June, 2020
Future of Work: Will traditional office life survive the pandemic?

Covid-19 is driving us to new ways of working. In Future of Work, Newstalk’s Jess Kelly and Gavin McLoughlin will explore how long-lasting the changes will be, and how they will impact on other areas of our lives.

In this week’s episode, in partnership with Vodafone Business, Jess and Gavin focus on the future of the office.

Over the last few months, much of the commentary around Covid-19’s impact on the future of work has centred on remote working. Many have suggested that more employees will seek to avoid the office altogether, saving time and money on long commutes and using proven technology to do their job at home.

If that transpires it will have profound consequences for workers, businesses, investors, towns and cities.

Workers may be able to save money and achieve a better work-life balance but might find networking and creative thinking more difficult, and it will be more difficult to learn new skills through spending time around more experienced colleagues.

Businesses might be able to save money on rent but may find it more difficult to impose culture and values on their organisation, and also to monitor workers’ productivity.

For investors – offices may no longer prove as attractive an asset class. Towns and cities, seeing fewer people commuting to work, may see some businesses finding it more difficult to survive, and big changes to building usage. All of these are just some of the aspects in which our lives would change if a sustained shift to remote working occurs.

In this episode Gavin and Jess discuss their experiences of remote working, and whether their views on the utility of the office have changed. They discuss the challenges and opportunities that would accompany a general move away from offices, and whether a happy medium could be found between office working and remote working.

They speak to John McCartney, director of research at Savills Ireland, on whether there is any concrete evidence yet of a sustained shift to remote working. John also discusses the outlook for investment and rents in the commercial property market, the kinds of office building which may prove more attractive in the new normal and whether companies might be tempted to offer staff lower wages if staff live in areas where the cost of living is lower.

In part 3 of the episode, Gavin and Jess speak to Joe McGinley from serviced office provider Iconic Offices. Joe discusses the impact of the pandemic on his business, including whether he has experienced an exodus of tenants, and how layouts have had to be changed to accommodate the need for social distancing. Joe also discusses:

Whether the pandemic might provide his business with an opportunity as companies’ office needs change

The outlook for rents in the serviced office sector

The increasing usage of technology in the office driven by Covid-19

How the pandemic will impact his company’s plans for expansion

Whether the sense of community between tenants in co-working spaces might be eroded by social distancing guidelines

If you’re a business owner trying to decide how best to manage your office footprint, or a worker deciding whether you should work from home full time, you won’t want to miss this episode.

Next week’s episode will focus on connectivity – exploring what kind of internet and phone services businesses will need to sustain themselves in the new world of work. Gavin and Jess will be joined by Debbie Power from Vodafone to discuss developments in the internet of things and the impact they will have on future workplace.

They will also be joined by Clare Duffy, network development and electrification manager at ESB Networks, to discuss the future of electricity in Ireland, including how a shift to remote working would affect the loads experienced by the grid, and the impact of data centres.

The final two episodes of this series of Future of Work will explore:

The future of remote-working hubs – will Covid-19 lead more people to embrace them?

How working patterns will adapt, including changes to working hours and the kind of childcare model that is needed in society.

If you have any questions of your own, or comments for the show, you can email [email protected], and Jess and Gavin will answer as many as they can with their expert guests. You can also subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

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