The media and entertainment industry is generally known for being a fun work-hard-play-hard environment. Usually seen as a fast-paced and exciting sector, getting employees to come to the office was seemingly straightforward. However, lockdowns due to the pandemic changed everything.
Firstly, there was cost. Many governments around the world initiated lockdowns during the pandemic that stopped employees from going to the office. Subsequently, institutions tried to downsize to either a smaller office or get rid of the office entirely. Most however were faced with the realization that their contracts stipulated they must keep paying, even with government-enforced lockdowns.
Firms tried to continue making funds through work-from-home schemes, which in turn led to many employees realizing their quality of life was better working from home than going to the office. When the lockdowns subsided, and when faced with the notion of heading back to the office, droves of employees resigned, shifted gears in their careers, or dug into the idea that they would not be returning. Creating a dilemma for most companies as they had a liability – in an office – that was seemingly not being utilized.
Media and entertainment specifically stood out in this regard, as outside of going on set, the office is generally not needed for work function. Idea machination is seen as more viable and smoother face-to-face but it’s also not a necessity.
Talking to Tom John Or-Paz, CEO of Chairman & Founder of LightArt, one area that he believed needs to change is design. “We can see why people don’t want to go to the office. Commercial space. Boring. Mundane. Monotonous. What companies need to realize is that that space has to be more exciting and freeing than someone’s personal space at home.”
“Employees have to be excited about heading to their office.”
LightArt has built and designed hundreds of housing and commercial units in branded buildings around the world in places such as Austria, Dubai, Indonesia, India, and the U.S.
He added, “We create environments that are constantly changing. So it doesn’t become boring. It’s fresh and new all the time. We work with architects, interior designers, and artists from around the world. Sustainability and smart home elements are extremely important to create a cutting-edge environment but what’s also key is a changing one.”
“Art is changed, the scenery is upgraded and developed, technology is constantly manoeuvred and installed. So whether it’s residential or commercial there’s always something exciting going on. There’s always something happening.”
LightArt’s tenants pay management costs to effectively receive full on-demand concierge services, from home shopping to professional services such as repairs, technicians, making appointments, and design adaptation.
Or-Paz said, “Our latest project is a property listed at $55 million that’s 380 sq m in the most expensive piece of land in Tel Aviv, Israel,”
“Everything is designed. It has an infinity pool, a state-of-the-art sound system and unique artwork from Dali, Banksy, and Ghost, amongst many other things.”
He concluded, “Are there costs included in things like this, yes of course, but if you really want to retain your talent in business – and have them come to an office daily – you have to start considering innovative ways of doing things in the innovative time we are living in.”
Flexibility has effectively become the de-facto buzzword in this era of hybrid working. With companies now offering more remote working hours and unlimited holidays than ever before. Albeit your work has to be done just as well as if you were in the office.
Talking to CNBC, Scott Dussault, the CFO of HR tech company Workhuman, agreed with Or-Paz’s thought process in needing an update to commercial spaces to incentivize people to work from the office again. “You’re going to see a lot more open spaces, collaboration spaces, conference rooms, meeting rooms, break areas where people can sit and get together,” he said. “It’s going be focused on connection which I think frankly is positive and it is evolution – it’s going to be about making those connections more meaningful.”
Regardless, it’s clear something has to be done by business owners and CEOs to change things. If you force people to go back you’re risking losing talent to a fresh post-pandemic era way of thinking, and if you do nothing you may have a large liability that is not being utilized.
Offices do of course have their plus points for employees also. Camaraderie, friendships, and helping revitalize businesses placed in commercial districts all come to mind.
We’ll see if companies decide to keep their office leases and how they adapt to the changing environment as the post-pandemic era continues.