At one time - the massive Sanlam Head Office in Bellville hosted over 2500 people working at their desks every single day.
Now that enormous building is pretty much empty.
Most of the staff are now not travelling through to the office everyday - they're working remotely from home and in coffee shops, having those all important meetings on Zoom and filling up virtual Trello boards.
What happens after the pandemic has gone - do knowledge workers go back to their old ways and head back to the office just because it's there?
What purpose does an office serve anyway if the tools for knowledge work are now mobile?
A big office building is a significant expense even for large companies. With the future of the office building being so uncertain right now, I'm sure almost every single organisation with a large office on their balance sheet is doing a significant amount of scenario planning and strategic thinking as to where they go from here.
Do they go entirely virtual like many technology companies in Silicon Valley, do they repurpose their existing buildings to deliver a different business outcome once the threat of illness has passed?
Do companies go for a hybrid working model in the future, or are the downsides too great?
Before the pandemic struck, everyone was talking about the need for culture building. collaboration, sharing of ideas from multiple perspectives, brand building, elimination of silos - those needs haven't gone away just because a virus has forced people to work in extreme isolation from one another.
The answers to this are not as simple as they at first might appear. What is needed is some very careful futures thinking based on sound research and logic.
The pandemic will pass, for their sanity, people will need to be able to separate work-life from home-life, the price of office space will drop, ideas are better shared in-person - all of these concepts are still true and relevant to the discussion.
What's right for the staff working at TikTok might not be as right for people working at Sanlam.
Do your own scenario planning