A panel of corporate real estate leaders and C-Suite members said today at the  CoreNet Global North America Virtual Summit that taking measures to avoid employee burnout  and anxiety driven by the pandemic is a key priority and will be one of the crisis’ lasting legacies. 

The panel was moderated by Bill Knightly, Chief Executive, Global Occupier Services, Cushman & Wakefield and included: 

  • Martyn Curragh, Chief Financial Officer, PwC
  • Chano Fernandez, Co-CEO, Workday
  • Anna Levine, Chief Commercial Officer, Industrious
  • Stephen Parker. Chief Human Resources Officer, A.T. Kearney

“Mental health issue has become prevalent in so many places,” Parker said. “(We’ve) too easily converted every nano second of our employees’ lives into productivity.”

The great work from home experiment has succeeded in many ways, but it has also blurred the lines between when an employee should and should not be working. 

Levine said a recent Gartner report said that the average employee’s capacity to adapt to change has been cut in half, which provides a scope of the chronic stress that we are all carrying.

“Leaders are not immune either, we have to check in with ourselves. Be real with yourself about how you are doing.”

“We need to triple down on giving people permission to do the things leaders can do, so that encouragement doesn’t ring hollow. Take time to yourself, take care of yourself. Don’t just offer advice that you know you can take only because you have ultimate freedom as a leader,” Fernandez said.

The panelists also said that post-pandemic, office space will be built and designed based on the functions that are needed, rather than having the space configured after it is built. The office will return, they say, but it will be more focused on a place for collaboration and team work. And most companies will adopt a hybrid model of remote and office work.

“We’ll see a concentration of the purpose: What am I solving for, as opposed to, ‘we have the space how should we use it?’  We may get better outcomes because we’ll be more intentional about what we want in the first place,” Levine said. And flexibility will be key. “The pandemic has accelerated so many things that were already underway. This idea of the office as a zero sum game has shifted overnight.”