Leesman | Teamwork no longer depends on the office
Perceptions of the office as the best place for collaboration are partly misplaced, according to Leesman, the employee experience experts.
While people feel slightly better supported in the office than at home when they are collaborating on creative work, they feel less supported when they collaborate on focused work, a survey of more than 20,000 people showed.
The findings suggest that offices will not survive just on the assumption that we need them for teamwork.
“Employees are getting better at collaborating apart from each other,” said Tim Oldman, founder and CEO of Leesman, in a presentation on its latest findings.
In its research, the company surveyed workers between Q3 2021 and Q2 2022. Respondents were asked how well they were supported at home or in the office across 16 different activities.
Kirsty Angerer, development director at Leesman, said: “I think most workplace professionals would conclude that the office is a great place for people to collaborate in and that it might be the sole place that people can do that effectively.
“But what we can see from the data is that, actually, collaborating activities can happen as well at home – if not better in some instances.”
Offices had a six percentage point advantage over homes for collaborating on creative work, while homes had a one percentage point advantage over offices in collaborating on focused work.
Angerer said: “While that seems marginal, it is now showing that the office is no longer the sole place where collaborating activities can happen, and home can actually be that place as well.”
Connection – not collaboration
However, there was a handful of activities where offices had a clear advantage. These included hosting visitors, clients and customers (+44% vs the home); informal social interaction (+39%) and learning from others (+22%).
“Whilst there might be fewer instances where the office is better supporting these activities, when those instances do occur, there is a much larger gap of greatness,” Angerer said.
The implication is that offices will become “hubs of connection”, rather than collaboration, and will need to be designed to cater to those activities.
However, Leesman also recognised that the question of how we will work in the future is not yet clear.
Oldman said: “The dust is settling. I think we all have to agree that we’re coming into a space, which is starting to feel like it might be the new normal. But the dust hasn’t yet settled. So let’s be clear on that: the experiment is still ongoing.”