The Covid-19 lockdown has meant that many people have been obliged to work from home. This has been difficult for some, but for others, the experience has been more positive and indeed surprisingly productive. As we explained in our recent blog entry on hot-desking, working remotely is one of the frequently cited elements in agile working, so it’s a trend that is likely to continue.
However, does this mean that offices are no longer relevant? We don’t think so and neither does Tracy Browers, writing for Forbes. Her article “Why The Office Simply Cannot Go Away: The Compelling Case For The Workplace” provides a number of well-defined reasons why the office environment is essential for businesses and those that work for them.
Tracy Browers concedes that “We can work from home with some level of effectiveness. We can meet using all kinds of technology platforms. We can stay connected to colleagues. We can perform our tasks. We can manage our work.
We can, but it’s just not the best idea.”
What the office can offer
She lists the five key benefits that the office workplace can provide as:
- Humanity and innovation: Connections with work colleagues and face to face contact are important for the social nature of human beings, for their ability to work as a team and for the generation of new ideas.
- Purpose and energy: The workplace can foster a sense of common purpose and heighten morale, motivation and the dynamic thrust of the business.
- Health and wellbeing: Employees benefit mentally from the variety and space offered by offices. Tracy Browers sums it up very well: “Traditionally, we have talked about how to ensure a separation between work and home—how to leave work at the office and ensure a focus on life at home. But through the pandemic, the opposite has become true. People benefit from leaving home at home and coming to the office to focus on work.”
- Talent and engagement: The office can attract talent and provide an environment that reflects the company’s purpose and policies. Working from home can create issues of separation as well as creating potential practical problems such as endangering the security of company data.
- Empathy and reinforcement of culture: Empathy and trust are enhanced by people physically working together in the same place. Tracy Browers sates that “More regular interaction can help us make sense of people’s responses, and more greatly appreciate their point of view.” Prolonged remote working can also create challenges for keeping the company culture intact.
She adds that: “These benefits hold even in a socially distanced near term office, and especially in post-vaccine workplace.”
The way we work has constantly changed over decades, particularly with the incredible advances in technology and internet-enabled communications. This has allowed many companies to carry on their business during the Covid-19 lockdown through remote working.
However, we believe it would be a grave mistake for most businesses to abandon their offices entirely. Tracy Browers has given some good reasons why this would be so, but it cannot be stressed enough that the office environment provides many significant benefits that contribute to success in business. Take away the social interaction plus the immediacy of sharing ideas and strategies with colleagues and the dynamic that drives the progress of a business is likely to falter.
Additionally, the workplace is integral to a company’s brand identity and to generating positive awareness with customers and stakeholders. It provides a shop window for the company to display tangible proof of its unique identity and ethos. Without it, a valuable element in the management of perception is lost.
Undoubtedly, Covid-19 and the risk of future pandemics will affect the way we design and configure our places of work, allowing for the principle of safe distancing to be followed. With our many years of experience in undertaking commercial interior design and office fit-out projects, Glenside are certainly up to the task and well prepared to create inspirational working environments that incorporate essential features to protect employees and visitors. Please contact us at any time for advice relating to your specific business requirements.