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Amelija Rudenko, Director of the office building Narbuto 5, Vilnius,  and representative of Kapitel UAB, Lithuania.

Kapitel deals with commercial real estate development and management. As we have close contacts with our tenants, we heard a lot about space rents, had discussions about changes in the needs of smaller offices in recent months.

Nothing changes quickly. Massive shift to working remotely from home have been a new experience for most of us. For many commercial real estate developers there is a question whether office will be needed in the future and what kind of offices will be on demand? It depends upon tenants’ decision to work from home or the preferences to get back to the offices.

 

According to different internet sources 40% of the global workforce has moved to distant/remote work during COVID-19 pandemic;

Distant/remote work has both positive and negative aspects. Initial excitement of remote work is related to increased personal time, no need to commute to work, no stuck in the traffic jams, no need to worry what to dress today, etc. Remote work pitfalls appear with some delay after primary excitement fades away, and most of us have experienced it already.

Digital.com study shows 30% of people working from home during the coronavirus are less productive. Here are some of the reasons.

Pitfall 1. Broken / disrupted schedule.

You face this pitfall immediately.

In your dreams:

·         You get up, brush your teeth, calmly drink coffee ... and sit down to work.

·         Instead of travelling to the office - you have 1-2 hours of free time.

In reality:

·         In the morning you want to sleep longer, because you go to bed late;

·         You go to bed late because you were sick of work and housework, and need time for yourself;

·         Finally, you find your balance, but there is a surprise: your colleagues switched to remote work and have the same work/life struggle. They will write you five letters demanding something to be agreed at half past one in the night. They will call you on Sunday early in the morning. You are all on a remote site, which means you can work at any time.

Remember the two hours you saved on the road? You will spend them on work. Firstly, if you just switched to a remote site, you are stressed. And the people around you are stressed too. Children are jumping and pulling you at home; you have to cook your own lunch and dinner.

In this state, it is difficult to maintain the previous efficiency, inevitably you are lagging, and you do everything more slowly.

Travelling to/from work has been a barrier between work and personal life. It was time to pack up, tune in to work or vice versa, forget about it, listen to the radio, podcast, dream of vacation, look through your car window. Now you have to find out another way how to separate work and life.

Pitfall 2. Violation of borders. Patience vs conflicts.

One of the most difficult circumstances that you have faced is the need to constantly be in a confined space with other people - your loved ones, whether children, adults, or pets.

You break the boundaries of each other, annoy each other and do not understand each other. And if there is a chance to come to an agreement with adults, then this is inevitable when it comes to children, especially preschoolers. They will distract, climb, hang on you, come with questions and complaints, ask for food, drink and play. It seems to the children that if you are at home, you must give them time and immediately respond to their requests.

If you have children who are pulling you, then you take time for them and be patient.

Pitfall 3. Multitasking is a temporary solution.

Multitasking is often praised and presented as something very useful. The trap is that it is possible to work effectively in this mode for a very short time. What you would do calmly and alone in a couple of hours, you will do at least twice as long. 

Pitfall 4. “Groundhog day”. Annoying and sick from daily routine. At office it’s different and more involving.  

At some point you catch yourself on the fact that your route through the apartment is exactly the same as yesterday, and a week before, and a month ago. Most likely it used to be about the same before, only in your life there was something else, some other impressions, and it was not so noticeable. Now you have to figure out how to diversify the same type of everyday life.

Pitfal 5. Virtual vs. live. Too much internet does not substitute real life.

You sit at home and do not have the opportunity to see the world in its diversity, you lack the source of new impressions. What can compensate the lack of communication in the modern world? Of course, the Internet.

Too much “fake” in Instagram, Facebook, news portals, etc. starts annoying you. You do not have enough LIVE communication.

LIVE communication, true emotions, new impressions - all this is necessary for a human, as a social being.

Pitfall 6. Zoom fatigue. 

According to Harward Business Review, “Zoom fatigue” stems from how we process information over video. On a video call the only way to show we’re paying attention is to look at the camera. But, in real life, how often do you stand within half a meter of a colleague and stare at their face? Probably never. We need to work harder to process non-verbal signs like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language.

Having to engage in a “constant gaze” makes us uncomfortable and tired. In person, we are able to use our peripheral vision to glance out the window or look at others in the room. On a video call, if we turn to look out the window, we worry it might seem like we’re not paying attention. It’s also very hard for people not to look at their own face if they can see it on screen, or not to be conscious of how they behave in front of the camera. Without the visual breaks we need to refocus, our brains grow fatigued.

According to BBC interview with Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead, who explores sustainable learning and development in the workplace, silence is another challenge. Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about the technology.

BBC also interviewed Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, who studies workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness. According to her, if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. When you're on a video conference, you know everybody's looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is very stressful.

Pirfall 7. We lack of real- time collaboration. We lack social communication and live exchange of information.

·         No instant exchange of ideas, advise and discussions.

·         Less mental stimulation.

·         No „cooler“ talks.

·         Feeling disconnected from corporate life.

·         Less chances to get attention from your superior.

What the future holds for us? Despite the positive and negative aspects of distant work, offices are here to stay. Remote work trend has emerged and will continue to be strong, however, will not be applied to each and every. Most global companies (i.e. Google, Facebook, Amazon) plan to continue with majority of employees being remote. Normal office work transiting to flexible schedule and 4-day work week as additional bonus; On a corporate level most probably top-managers will stay in the offices while technical/ line employees will work remotely. Offices will remain and become more flexible, less crowded, equipped with modern technologies, more collaborative and coworking.

Find more: https://www.kapitel.ee/en/