PODCAST: Coronavirus Has Highlighted, Not Undermined, The Value Of The Office

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Despite the growing demand for digitization of our work, which has been accelerated by coronavirus, the role of physical workplaces remains important.
August 10, 2020
POdcast coronavirus

The technological revolution that is significantly changing the way we live, work, and study has been considerably accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. And while much of the human-technology interface has been lately perceived through the prism of remote work and online learning, there’s more to technology than meets the eye.

More crucially, and given that COVID-19 has re-emphasised the importance of technology, how will our workplaces evolve in the near and distant future? What role will the physical workspaces play in the post-pandemic era? And how to make the most of Artificial Intelligence?

The latest episode of The Way To Work podcast co-produced by Monocle and The Adecco Group Foundation offers answers to these and other pertinent questions.

Main conclusions:

  • Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Skype have become the linchpin of the world’s largest work from home experiment caused by COVID-19. And because the technology facilitating this digitization is not new, oftentimes the solutions to the challenges arising from its use are outdated as well. As it turns out, it took the global pandemic for us to start thinking about applying a more humancentric approach to digitization.

  • Another change inspired by COVID-19 has to do with the role of the office in our day-to-day reality. While working remotely can facilitate cooperation, to collaborate effectively humans need to be able to share a common physical space such as the office. Companies, therefore, need to be careful when thinking about their remote work policies and not to do away with their office buildings.

  • As a result, and contrary to the popular notion, the importance of the office has been highlighted (not undermined) by coronavirus. That said, given that people’s behaviour, preferences, and expectations have changed, our offices will need to be re-designed. Simply put, expect less open space and more quiet rooms.

  • To ensure that we make the most of what our workplaces offer and to increase efficiency and effectiveness, we will need to explore the use of AI and embrace life-long learning.


  • Rahaf Harfoush, digital anthropologist

  • Bruce Davison, CEO of GoSpace AI

  • John Maeda, Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient

  • Linda Morey Burrows, Principal Director at MoreySmith

  • Gauthier Van Malderen, CEO of Perlego