Return to the office allows new working models
Mixture. Hybrid. Balance. These are the buzzwords used by employers and managers to describe the type of work arrangements being considered starting next Monday as the restriction on office work is relaxed.
In Galway, PorterShed is eagerly awaiting people’s return. With offices based near Eyre Square in the city center, it offers hot desk facilities, coworking spaces, project spaces and services for technology companies.
âWe have gradually opened up,â says its CEO, Mary Rodgers. âWe’ve been open to essential services, so we’ve seen the return to the office happen with tech companies before, and we’re seeing at least five of our member companies coming back on Monday.â
Before the pandemic, around 130 people used the offices. Between 25 and 40 people are currently working in the offices, with another 30 expected to return next week, reducing the coworking space to half of its capacity.
PorterShed received Connected Hub grants from the Department of Rural and Community Development, as well as assistance from Enterprise Ireland through the Department of Enterprise during the pandemic. The grants were “essential” in helping the business reopen, according to Rodgers.
With the extra money, phone booths and podcast studios were set up in the offices. âWhen people come back to the office, others will still be operating remotely. Typically two people are at home and two people are here, so they will go to the phone booths for these meetings. “
The HRB Clinical Research Facility (HRB-CRFG) based at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals is planning a gradual return to its workplaces over the past year. Many of its researchers and office support staff, such as data managers and statisticians, who have been working remotely since March 2020 are invited back to the office starting Monday.
Caroline Kelly, clinical operations manager and local representative for Covid-19 at HRB-CRFG said, âDue to the nature of our work in clinical trials, the work of many clinical team staff has continued on site during the pandemic, mainly to take charge of patients on research studies and to facilitate the growing recruitment of patients specifically in Covid-19 research studies.
“This has not changed and our clinical staff continue to work on site.”
In May 2020, a ‘safe return to work protocol’ was introduced and it will be further developed, supporting a mixed working model.
âStarting Monday, we expect all of our staff to have access to the office. However, NUIG and HRB-CRFG will continue to support a hybrid model where people can work from the office and at other times from home, as appropriate.
âFor different people, it will mean different things. For me, I worked on a hybrid model that consists of two days on site, three days at home, with other staff taking a similar approach.
The pandemic has prompted some companies to rethink their commitment to a classic office model.
âFor me, the mixed model would work better,â says Kelly. âThere is a balance in this regard. Days on site or in the office are ideal for meeting people and having face-to-face meetings instead of those endless video meetings, when there is more structure at home and less travel.
âBy working from home, there is also more time for the family, which is very important. “