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The office – so much more than just a space for desks

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, millions of us spent our working days in an office – it was our norm, with team meetings, in-jokes and water-cooler moments creating our culture. Then, with the advent of lockdown forcing many to work from home, this all changed. For some, this has been a welcome change – allowing more flexibility and a more healthy work/life balance. For others however, this change has not been positive – with studies showing people finding their productivity decreases despite spending more time working when based at home 1, and many more missing the tight-knit camaraderie that creates good teams.

Now, as we emerge from lockdown in the UK, the office has been a popular topic of discussion – what we use them for, how we use them, and whether we need them at all going forward. But do we need to look beyond the physical space, and consider the needs, lives and experiences of those working within it? Rather than just a space to house desks, is it not also a valuable place for bonding and creativity, as well as a mixed social space, creating a culture, an experience and for some, an escape, from the home?

Social interaction – according to Lambert Smith Hampton 61% of workers recently surveyed overwhelmingly cited reduced social interaction as the main disadvantage of homeworking2.

Without an office, there is less social interaction, and as many of us have discovered recently, Zoom meetings just don’t compare. Humans are sociable creatures and the chats shared over making a cuppa would never make it into a team video call, but these brief conversations can be some of the most productive, interesting and idea sharing exchanges. Innovation teams rate interaction as being crucial for the success of a new venture3.

Mental Health – working alone can be isolating and this can affect your mood, wellbeing and your productivity. The social interaction provided through being in an office answers a basic social need and provides us with a culture in which we can belong and develop friendships as we build our careers.

Homeworking environments aren’t set up for the long term – some are lucky enough to have a home office where they can close the door from distractions, but for many, they are ‘making do’ at the kitchen table with furniture that may be unsuitable for their posture, internet bandwidth which may be insufficient as well as struggling to find a quiet space to have those long video calls (zoom fatigue is a thing!).

Training and supervisingwe learn from being near our colleagues, observing them and mentoring them, as well as asking questions and picking up tips. While we can do online training from a vast range of courses, nothing beats proper training in a room of people discussing challenges face-to-face. People management can become more difficult outside the office as well, with some employees needing more time invested to guide and direct them, and this isn’t as effective or personal when delivered remotely.

A sense of purpose – being in an office creates a joint sense of purpose. For many, the workplace is the physical heart and soul of a business representing its cultural aspirations and values, which in turn, helps to build team spirit. It can be hard to maintain an active work culture with shared beliefs and inclusivity when colleagues are operating in isolation.

If your business needs have changed during the Covid lockdown – you may need more space to allow for social distancing, or a smaller office to accommodate streamlined teams – speak to us. Our Future Business Centres are innovation communities built on support and collaboration, and we offer agile and flexible workspaces for different sized teams. Check out some of our spaces currently available here: https://futurebusinesscentre.co.uk/available-office-space  and drop us an email or a call – we’d love to hear from you.

 

Sources

1 https://www.techrepublic.com/article/study-working-from-home-means-more-time-on-computers-but-workers-arent-more-productive/
2 https://www.lsh.co.uk/covid-19/copy-of-office-survey-lockdown?listing=true
3 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5158073_Social_Interaction_A_Determinant_of_Entrepreneurial_Team_Venture_Success