The end of the office?
The end of the office?

This front page is not untypical of the shock headlines we’re currently seeing. But is it true? We don’t think so – For the facts, read on!

Out with the old, in with the new

Since the early 2000’s Broadband has revolutionised the way we work and has opened up the possibility for companies and employees to work in more agile and diverse ways.

Joe Morgan from The Observer wrote this month about how only 5% of employees mainly worked from home in 2019. Fast forward to March and employers who were reluctant before are now warming to the idea. This all sounds great, but is it sustainable? We know that Facebook and Twitter are encouraging their employees to work from home for the foreseeable future, but does this mean that others should follow suit? Or should we look towards a smarter way of working?

Are you able to work from home?

Working from home is great, right? You get to roll out of your bed straight onto your Laptop, thinking of the money you’re saving on travel and those lunch time trips to Pret. However, the reality is a lot more complicated than that. The reality is that many struggle to work effectively from home due to personal circumstances or the type of work they do.

Working from home graph

Let’s not forget the wellbeing of employees at home. At the end of the first two weeks of lockdown, more than half of the 500 people who responded to an Institute of Employment Studies homeworking wellbeing survey reported experiencing new aches and pains: 58% complained of neck pain, 56% experienced shoulder pain and 55% had experienced back pain.

Employers must understand that if they are promoting a work from home policy, they need to invest in their employees in order to improve their wellbeing and increase productivity. We touched on this in our recent blog about home office products, but we cannot stress enough how important it is having the right set up at home.

Specifically, adjustable task chairs, desks and indeed even height adjustable stands/desks to encourage movement and promote a healthier working environment.

For more information on homeworking products and wellbeing see our recent blog.

Home Alone

We have already heard and experienced this ourselves, the ‘video call fatigue’ and the craving for human interaction. All those long hours on zoom calls and working alone can influence your mental health and wellbeing. A recent survey carried out by the job website Monster found that ‘more than 50% of respondents who are working from home due to the pandemic are experiencing some form of burnout’.

Tom Welsh made a great point in the Telegraph this month. He said, ‘’people with spacious homes and established careers might love to work from home. But for young people living in small flats/studios, the office is a place not only for convivial environment, it is a place to show off their skills, interact and experience the company culture.’’ Without seniors being present, progression within a company may be difficult for many.

Why we still need the Office

There is a reason why there are different clusters in cities (financial ones, artistic ones and even technological ones). Mr Frey of Oxford University’s work programme argues ‘’places benefit from the movement of staff between companies and the inspiration that comes from randomly talking to people within physical clusters.”

Some people thrive in the ‘meatspace’; working better in groups and teams to create new ideas. In a recent poll taken by the Guardian, 60% of respondents said they would go back to the office now if they could.

We also know the mental health benefits of interacting and socialising, which are linked to boosting one’s immune system, helping fight depression, increasing a sense of belonging and improving wellbeing. Cyberpunks call the physical world ‘the meatspace’ - we just call it life.

The office is the heart of the company’s culture

The office is the heart of the company’s culture

Indeed carried out a survey where they found that 47% of active job seekers cite company culture as their driving reason for looking for work and 46% cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply for a company.

We know that companies use their office spaces & culture to attract the best talent, so how can recruiting and attracting the best talent work without an office? For now, this topic may not be at the top of every employers’ list, but perhaps it should be. We believe companies need to hold onto their strongest assets, which for most is their people and culture - and at the core of that is their workplace.

According to a survey by Achievers, a workplace engagement platform, 88% of employees say their company culture is important to them and a third say they have felt “less connected towards both their company culture and colleagues” during COVID-19. 52% of employees miss having social interactions with their co-workers, according to a Glassdoor survey.

Where is the office going?

We don’t know for sure, but we have found that, given the opportunity, some of our clients are looking to downsize as they realise that a smaller space will potentially save them money and be more manageable in the long run. Many customers are looking to store some of their existing furniture in order to adhere to the current government guidelines. In its commercial property survey for Q2 2020, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that 93% of respondents envisage businesses scaling back their office footprint over the next two years, subject to lease break opportunities.

It has never been a better time to stop, rethink and make a change

It has never been a better time to stop, rethink and make a change

Many companies will be looking at ways to make a safe and efficient return to the office, and so they should. However, this is also a great time to rethink and question the way things were done before.

There can be little doubt that the future will bring more flexible work practices, but it will be important to get the balance right, offering effective facilities for employees in the workplace.

An organisation is more than the sum of its parts; it is only through direct human interaction that new ideas are generated, and through human cooperation that current plans are implemented. The ‘maintenance/tick-over’ homeworking approach can only last so long. Without a place of work, innovation, productivity and profit will suffer.

Every organisation needs a ‘hub’ where its people (and other stakeholders such as clients and suppliers) can interact and socialise with each other, benefitting their individual wellbeing and maintaining the all-important core culture.

Interion can help

We can help with planning and organising your flexible office, moving and storing furniture – and calculating your future space requirements. For any help, support or guidance you require, please contact us.

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