[B-SIDE Podcast] A room with a whiteboard: the fate of the office in a post-pandemic world

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BusinessWorld B-Side

Hybrid working arrangements won’t kill the traditional office, said Balder Tol, general manager for Australia and Southeast Asia of WeWork, a co-working spaces firm.

“There is an absolute need for a physical space to inspire and engage employees and to drive collaboration as well,” said Mr. Tol. “There is nothing more powerful than a meeting room and a whiteboard when you want to think about innovation.”

In this B-Side episode, Mr. Tol and


senior reporter Arjay L. Balinbin talk about the future of work and the fate of the workplace.


The post-pandemic workplace is flexible.

The coronavirus pandemic forced many companies to adopt the hybrid model, in which employees can work from anywhere — whether the office, the home, or any third space (such as a cafe or a co-working space).

Post-pandemic, this model will continue. “Across the world, the research is evident that employees really enjoy a form of flexibility,” said Mr. Tol. “Choice gives a sense of empowerment. … Being free to work where and when I want — where I can be most productive — has a significant positive impact on employee satisfaction.”

On average, employees want to be in the office three days a week.

The challenge for organizations, Mr. Tol added, is creating a consistent experience of work in a hybrid environment

Commercial real estate will recover.

Office space transactions recently improved slightly, fueled by demand from outsourcing and traditional firms.

“I’m confident about the sector’s recovery, but it will take some time and evolve to be more flexible, as the country continues to navigate the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] situation,” Mr. Tol said.

“The ability to scale up or down, to increase or decrease your footprint as needed is of great advantage for organizations. I think you’ll see landlords partnering with flexible operators a lot more and therefore increasing the availability of hybrid working solutions for organizations.”

Collaboration is the main function of the office as a physical space.

“If you want to truly innovate and collaborate, there is nothing more frustrating than having some people in an office and some people on Zoom trying to … have an active discussion,” said Mr. Tol.

A centralized location (that is, a physical office) where people can gather mitigates the communication problem and also fosters company culture.

“The office needs to be redesigned as a space where employees want to come together,” said Mr. Tol.

Recorded remotely on Oct. 8. Produced by

Paolo L. Lopez


Sam L. Marcelo


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BusinessWorld B-Side