Published May 24, 2021
Is the Office Obsolete?
Recent times have been unpredictable for businesses, employers and employees. Working from home has now become the new norm, from dressing only your top half professionally to Zoom being your best friend. With this adaptation to new working schedules and many of us not seeing the office for over a year we now ask ourselves – do we still need the office when working remotely has been successful for so long? Is working remotely as efficient and is there any need for us to go back?
Let’s face it, working from home is so much easier than commuting every-day, not to mention the fact we can ditch our heels and suit jackets for sweatpants and slippers! According to a study by Harvard, 81% of employees would prefer to not go back to the office. With this in mind, employees also felt more productive whilst working remotely reporting more time for breaks, thinking space and less distraction. This means more time spent with family, being able to get house chores finished and more time for exercise. Has the absence of a long commute and fewer distractions has allowed us to work smarter in order to free up more time?
A traditional office setting can be loud and distracting for some, with a small space generating such a buzz. Although working with many people is great for morale and company culture, sometimes a little piece of quiet is valuable as this allows for tasks to be completed more efficiently and to a higher quality.
We also can’t ignore the fact that office space is a large expense to any organisation. The cost of keeping lights on, tech working and maintaining property can be costly. Now that it’s been proven that we can work remotely to the same standard is there any need to run an office five days a week? After the events of the pandemic, leading advertising agency, S3 have decided to move out of their ‘google-esqe’ office fitted with mini golf course and ball pit for employees and move into a smaller office to facilitate a blended working approach. Employees will have the option to work from home a few days a week and come into the office for collaborative tasks and meetings when required/ wanted. Will we be seeing this hybrid approach to working more often as we move into post pandemic life?
With so many factors surrounding the benefits of working from home, it’s no surprise that employees would rather stay remote and that employers are reevaluating their working structures too. However, we shouldn’t rule out office space quite yet as the benefits of office working can’t be ignored.
Studies have shown that working in an environment that encourages social interaction with colleagues can be excellent for your mental health, making you happier and lightening your mood. Instead of surrounding yourself in your own thoughts it is often better to be around your colleagues and have good conversations. As humans, we need that social interaction. Research shows that having a strong network of support bonds both emotional and physical health, which in this context can result in a happier working life.
We also need to consider the logistical elements of working from home and assess whether or not they are conducive to our work. Working from home can be difficult if you are unable to have a dedicated space. We don’t all have the luxury of a home office and distractions from children and family members can have an impact on our work. It can also be difficult to separate work and home life when everything is playing out under one roof. Working from a dedicated office space allows us to maintain a separation between work and home life.
Many of us have started new roles during the pandemic, meaning we will have met our colleagues and leadership team through a video call rather than in person. Any of you that have been through this process will know it’s a strange one. We are so used to starting a new role by having a tour of the office and being introduced to the team over coffee that these virtual inductions and introductions can be tricky to navigate. Having an office can help build human connections quicker and easier not only with existing employees but new ones too, and no matter how good your video call etiquette is nothing beats that face to face interaction when it comes to building relationships.
So what’s the verdict? Working remotely and in an office both bring their pros and cons. It would seem that a hybrid way of working could be the way forward, allowing employees to offer flexibility to employees. 61% of people said they’d like to work 2-3 from home and the rest of the week at the office. This compromise could provide the perfect balance between work and home life. We can’t ignore the fact that being around people makes us happier but having autonomy over our schedules and having flexibility from employers could be fantastic for company culture.