At the same time, the human touch and physical presence are still needed, but they have a very different purpose now versus in the past. For instance, if employers want to strengthen employee connections, improve social capital, onboard new hires, or evaluate potential acquisitions, maybe for these types of activities, it still helps to be together in the same place.
Can you imagine, for instance, a big, open space with hundreds of people, and most of these people are on videoconferences with colleagues who are somewhere else? I mean, that would not be sustainable. Offices need a completely different layout, in line with the needs of the flexible and remote world. You’ll need individual offices, though maybe not just for one person. Instead, these would be bookable for when you are in the office. You need centers of gravity, where colleagues can connect effortlessly. You need integrated employee experience applications that make it easy to coordinate with both on-site and off-site peers and reserve gathering spaces, hospitality services, and technology support as required. Community managers should be available to engage and support employees across the physical office and virtual workplace.
“We have seen some companies reduce their office portfolio costs by 60 or 70 percent, in the most ambitious cases.”
We lived for a couple of years buying everything online. But today, in general, 60 to 70 percent of consumer shopping is done in an omnichannel way, which means that maybe I go to a physical shop to check things out and then I order online. If retailers are able to reimagine their footprint in a way that is designed for omnichannel, they will have a new value proposition with a variety of formats. The main lesson from what happened in the pandemic and from the new way of shopping is that the experience, not just the product, will make the difference.
Federico Marafante is a partner in McKinsey’s Milan office, where he leads the People & Organizational Performance Practice in the Mediterranean region. He works on real estate issues and on the design of organizational and distribution models.
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