Office first

What is office first?

Office first is a concept that favors the office as the central location for professional activities, as opposed to the "remote first" working model where remote working is favored.

This means that employees work from the office most of the time, often from the company's head office. They may, however, resort to remote work for specific reasons, such as a major strike or other exceptional circumstances.

The office-first model can be an attractive option for companies that place a premium on face-to-face collaboration and real-time communication, to the benefit of the smooth running of face-to-face activities. Full-time remote work may also be considered less productive or less suitable in some companies. However, taking into account individual needs and preferences through co-construction is crucial to finding the right balance.

The importance of an office-first approach

The office first strategy sees the office as an essential space for business operations. Its implementation can be motivated by a variety of factors, such as the nature of the activities requiring physical presence, the organization's culture or management preferences. Offices are often designed to encourage collaboration, creativity and teamwork, making them a valuable place for some companies.

The advantages of the office first model

For employers

  • Facilitate communication and collaboration between employee and manager.
  • Improving corporate culture: all employees are present in the office, on the various workstations, reinforcing cohesion and a sense of belonging within the teams and the company.
  • Better monitoring of productivity: in a face-to-face environment, the employer can more easily supervise and measure the quality of employees' work, ensure the delivery of each project and indicate the way forward for the whole company.

For employees

  • Improve social interaction: employees can interact face-to-face with their colleagues, contributing to their social well-being and the creation of bonds.
  • Balancing work and personal life: office first can help to clearly demarcate these two worlds.
  • Access to professional resources and equipment: on site, employees have at their disposal all the equipment they need to work in good conditions, with ergonomic chairs on wheels, phone boxes, a good internet connection, etc. The office is specially designed for work, whereas the home may be less conducive to certain tasks (lack of space or suitable equipment).

Comparison with remote first

Office first differs from remote first, which favors working from a distance. While remote first allows employees to work from anywhere with an Internet connection, office first emphasizes office presence as the central point. However, many companies in Paris and the rest of France are now adopting hybrid approaches, combining elements of both models to offer employees flexibility and choice.

But before implementing this type of project, a thorough examination of the work environment must be carried out to verify the presence of a real need. Only after a hybrid model has been deployed should an initial evaluation take place to see whether the new organization is a success.

There is a growing trend in the press to use the term "remote friendly". This concept gives employees the freedom to organize their working week between the office and home. The employee can then be referenced on a desk-booking software which allows him to declare when he will be in remote work or in the office. This tool enables the employer to monitor the attendance habits of its employees. The data obtained can then be used to make decisions, such as redesigning spaces with new furniture designs, or adapting the remote work policy.

Remote friendliness also makes it possible to hold video meetings in addition to face-to-face ones, or to share a file over the web as if in the cloud, so that the resource is accessible to employees wherever they are.

In a nutshell

Office first is a work policy that favors employee presence in the office, as opposed to remote first, which encourages remote working. This policy may be adopted for a number of reasons, such as incompatibility with remote work or management's reluctance to adopt a hybrid organization. Being present in the office has its advantages, encouraging collaboration and face-to-face communication, but it can also run counter to employees' needs. The key lies in consultation and co-construction with teams.

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