The idea that the pandemic was going to sound the death knell for the office was seized on by many last year but it was far too hastily arrived at.
When we went into the first lockdown, we were just coming into spring, the weather was good and working from home was still a novel experience for many. One year on, what we’ve been hearing from our clients has been echoed by what I have been hearing from my teams and by what I’ve been feeling myself – this is not a sustainable or healthy way to work.
Working from home is relentless. You probably didn’t realise it at the time, but the daily commute is an opportunity to think about the day ahead and wind down before you get home. That differentiation between work and home has now gone. At home, you might feel like you can go on and on working, and you don’t sense how much it takes out of you until you stop. Whereas at the office, you naturally break – you come out of a meeting and you might pause to chat to someone, or go and get some fresh air. You’re not always completing work tasks or in constant virtual communication on email or calls.
Video and voice calls zap your energy more than face-to-face interaction too, somehow. The natural way of communicating with people is fundamentally impossible when you’re not in the same environment. And business can’t embed its culture without the social aspect of team building and communication: the onboarding, training and mentoring – those serendipitous moments where you bump into someone on the stairs or whilst you are grabbing a cup of coffee. The need for a business to have a base, a home, is even more important now than it was before Covid, but in a different way.