Post-COVID Workplace

How Does The Office Impact Our Work?

Alfonso Jiménez’s Vision On The Future of Work

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“We are social beings, and social interaction takes place in the office. We need to share, see, feel; we need contact,” says Alfonso Jiménez, founder and honorary partner of the Spanish consultancy firm PeopleMatters and founder and CEO of Recruiting Erasmus. We spoke to Jiménez along with other global leaders about the future of the office. According to him, the physical workplace and in person interactions are irreplaceable, creating trust and intense bonds; values we need whether working from home or together in the office.

After working distributed for months during the lockdown, people are looking for spaces to bring them together to enhance socialization and collaboration. The future office’s most significant purpose will be to connect people and be a collaborative environment to foster innovation. To remain competitive, organizations need to be highly adaptable. Jiménez shared how he’s approaching what’s next.

Every crisis is a chance

360º: How has Covid-19 changed your perspective on the future of your business and the industry?

Alfonso Jiménez:

The people consulting business was severely affected by the COVID pandemic. Whenever there is a crisis, it usually harms the industry. In the last thirty years, I have experienced several crises, but this was different in terms of unpredictability and immediate impact. Nobody saw it coming.

The difficulty of communicating with clients is another aspect. We all had to learn to communicate from a distance. Surely some of this learning and these new ways of relating will continue in the future. Ultimately, we had to adapt the range of our services to the new reality; webinars replaced personal meetings.

Questioning the
Status Quo

360º: Which trends do you think are here to stay, and will change the way you plan to serve your customers?

AJ:

I think our clients will work more from home. Before the pandemic, less than 5% of the 19 million employees worked from home; I estimate that it will reach 15% of the workforce. The consultative role of a salesperson will change. Tech-based relations will increase, and travel will decrease.

Companies will rethink their business models to leverage these three elements. People will play a more nuclear role, technology will be much more embedded in business models, and it will be difficult to compete without having the latest technology. Finally, workspaces will be remodeled, becoming more collaborative environments, and the great novelty will be that part of our professional life will reach our homes.

“We are part of an alteration of the three pillars of competitiveness: people, technology, and workspace.”

Alfonso Jiménez
Founder and Honorary Partner of PeopleMatters

Humans Need Social Interaction

360º: We learned a lot while working from home - why do you think we should still go to the office?

AJ:

I do not think we are going to a model of working from home full time. Some tasks can be done well from home, especially jobs that require high concentration when we have a quiet home. But today, the synergy of teams and collaboration will be central to the new office. I think that in these months, we have learned that a face-to-face meeting is irreplaceable. The same is true for face-to-face learning or face-to-face client interaction. I believe that work will enter our homes and be incorporated into the palette of spaces, but I do not think that working from home replaces the physical workplace, schools, or client facilities.

Diversity of Working

360º: What is the role of the physical workplace for your company, and how does it help your organization to achieve its goals?

AJ:

In our case, the physical space plays a key role for the business, as it is the team's meeting point. We do many tasks in the common space, but also spend a lot of time visiting our clients. Looking ahead, I look at a diversity of places to do the job. Surely, the time in our offices will decrease a little, the working time in our clients' facilities will also be reduced a little and the time we will work from home will increase. I think we will go to a 50% (office), 30% (home) and 20% (client) model, whereas before we had an 80% (office), 20% (client) model.

Alfonso Jiménez is founder and honorary partner of PeopleMatters. He is also the founder & CEO of Recruiting Erasmus, a board member of AED, and an associate teacher in Business Schools. He holds a PhD in Psychology.

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