During and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of working remotely went from a sometimes employee perk to an important workforce tool. Employees are taking advantage of both hybrid and 100% work-from-home methods.
Many experts believe that the next natural evolution in the workplace is asynchronous work. According to Kenzo Fong of Rock, a messaging app, asynchronous takes place when people do work, on their own time. It’s also a must, given the globalization of business. Sometimes known as “asynch,” this model means that workers are engaged at different times and places and operate on their own schedules.
In one example, Fong discusses workers in London and Los Angeles, pointing out that the typical 9-to-5 work culture means they’d only have a few hours for collaboration. But an asynchronous work model means “one could set tasks and deadlines for the other without the expectation to respond right away,” Fong wrote. This means work is completed on time. It also means a sider talent pool. “With an asynchronous work style, companies can hire literally from anywhere in any time zone and are not limited by geography,” Fong explained.
However, the question is how an asynchronous work model will impact office space. According to JLL’s Tony Josipovic, “asynchronous work creates a new set of logistical challenges for the physical office space.” The specific challenge is determining specific space needs.
With the typical 9-to-5 model, employers can figure out how many desks, collaboration spaces and conferences rooms are needed. But with the asynchronous model, employers “don’t know when employees will come in, what they want to achieve in the office and how long they will stay,” Josipovic said. “It’s very difficult to curate a personalized experience without this information.”
Furthermore, amenities and services can also disappear for employees who might want to come to the office in the evening or very early in the morning.
Both Josipovic and JLL colleague Lindsey Walker believe technology and data can help in the areas of space planning and occupancy management. For example, scheduling and experience apps can provide information about when workers will be in the office, which can help better coordinate building services and future space demand.
Walker said that adopting more variety and choice in office space also means ensuring that spaces align with employees’ asynchronous profiles. “If Brian in New York needs to communicate in real-time with his coworker in Singapore, does the workspace support that?” she added. “Ultimately, it will come down to the data you’re collecting that will help you make the right decisions going forward.”
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