At this Summit a CEO and DN member wishes to brainstorm the form and function of the post-Covid 19 office. The group is by invitation only and consists gaishikei CEOs.
Many CEOs (as attested on the Delphi ‘classifieds’ Whatsapp forum) are taking this opportunity to trim office space and office costs. With WFH now well established, this looks like an obvious solution.
But where does that leave the office? One DN adviser mentioned that he feels CEOs are over-reacting. “Work From Home means living off accumulated social capital, but it needs to be replenished,” he says, adding that “the death of the office is over-hyped.”
Indeed, it’s OK to work from home when the team has known each other for decades (not as unusual in Japan as in other countries) but what about when onboarding fresh grads or mid-career hires? You can’t teach them company culture over a few Zoom calls, or impart them survival tips and wisdom as you could through grabbing a few beers with colleagues, or discussing office politics around the water cooler…
How about if you re-interpret the office as a place to ‘meet’ rather than ‘work. That has to affect the layout. You no longer need orderly rows of desks, printers, reception areas, elaborate IT infrastructure. Rather, you want a quite different ‘brainstorming’ environment. But what does that even look like in practice? Most office managers don’t have a clue, and are justifiably sceptical of beanbags and other Silicon Valley toys…
Under this new scenario costs don’t just drop. You might need to bring in sophisticated and original designers. They should not just conjure up an environment which reflects your corporate values and unique culture, but also overcome the obstacle of ‘physical distancing’ – not an easy remit.
Or as another member mentioned to me today: “What if staff are no longer regarded as assets? WFH makes real that employers and staff don’t actually feel any loyalty to each other. I can finally hire the guys in Estonia at 30% of their cost in Japan.”
Stephane will outline his issues and thinking before we plunge into Q&A. Chatham House Rules apply.
Any CEO interested in the Future of the Office should attend this event!
July 7 2020, 11am-12pm on Zoom