Many of us have experienced life in very different lights recently and none more so than when it comes to work. Being abruptly banned from our comfortable, spacious and productive office spaces and told to make room wherever possible to begin working from home has led to mixed reactions.
While having another hour in bed thanks to the cancelled commute has been great, trying to work surrounded by temptations, treats and distractions at home has been challenging for some. And reports suggest that the thing we have missed most about our lovely offices is the social interactions.
Irreplaceable Physical Energy
Being able to physically chat to colleagues is not only good for our mental health but it also has a profound effect on business. In an article by the BBC, Sadie Morgan from London-based firm dRMM says, “Taking risks and creativity, essential for businesses, generally happens in groups, real groups – not in a virtual space – when you can see people directly and be in the same space.” Grace Choi agrees adding, “We shouldn’t underestimate the need to get together to exchange ideas. We miss body language, cues for when to speak, fluid conversation and the connections between us.“
Generally what this means is, a shared frustration with digital time delays, frozen faces and of course, simply trying to figure out the latest applications. The excitement of in person discussions and physical energy is greatly compromised by the distance of the digital world.
Research also suggests that unplanned face-to-face interactions are important in generating new ideas. Therefore, getting rid of the office completely may actually harm a business’ bottom line in the long run. Good ideas begin to dry up, on-boarding of new staff becomes awkward and teams begin disintegrating.
Greater Trust, Better Performance
On the other hand, there will be days when we sit down at our desks, immerse ourselves in work and barley speak to anyone other than at the coffee machine for a pick me up. Being able to work from home during these days has its obvious advantages.
Similarly, we have those days when things are taken completely out of our control. A child is ill and can’t go to school. Or, you have a doctor’s appointment close to home but miles away from work. Having the flexibility and provisions to work from home on these days changes the way we feel towards work more generally.
Employees who experience trust and freedom feel valued and respected and in turn are more motivated and productive. Allowing teams to work from home also gives back a little control. Not having to worry about personal matters conflicting with work reduces stress ultimately resulting in less sick days and presenteeism.
The Generation Divide
While some people have enjoyed aspects of the new normal, other people have faced real struggle adjusting to changes such as working from home.
The younger generation broadly live alone, in smaller homes and often without private outdoor space. This group of society are more likely to miss the formative experiences of the workplace. What’s more, as younger generations grow, having less and less personal interaction could be damaging for their social development. Although they are very tech literate, scrapping physical interactions in the workplace may negatively impact the confidence and voice of our younger generations.
For the older generation, we have the opposite issue. Suddenly being plunged into an unfamiliar world of technology can be very overwhelming. Often, this can cause unnecessary stress and feelings of isolation.
The Environment and the Economy
The environment and the economy are both reasons for and against working from home. Having fewer cars on the road, less need for public transport and less energy wasted by vast office buildings clearly has huge environmental upsides. However, with less people travelling into our cities and towns each day, would it mean the end of many restaurants, cafes, dry cleaners etc. that serve our office workers on a daily basis?
Perhaps the answer is not to scrap the physical office all together but just to make it less rigid. Morgan Stanley has predicted that, throughout Europe, the numbers of those working from home for all or some of the week will more than double to 30% by 2030.
It seems giving people the choice to work from home is a smart move for businesses, the economy and critically, the health of our planet. Using the lessons we’ve learnt from this difficult pandemic may just help us to grow into a stronger, happier and healthier world.
Since the easing of lockdown restrictions has allowed people to return to their offices, Officio has seen a shift in workspace requirements. More and more businesses are now looking to take flexible workspace contracts on shorter terms with less commitment than a long-term lease.
Although working from home has it’s advantages, meeting with clients in your living room is something that we don’t see catching on. The workspace will always provide a professional environment and the physical interactions that all businesses need. Let Officio help your business find just that by calling our team on 020 3053 3882.