07 June 2021 by Spencer Symmons
As the world begins to return to normal, tech firms are abandoning remote working and encouraging a return to the office. Tech companies are currently on the hunt for 1.18 million square feet of space in central London, with Microsoft rumoured to be looking for 300,000 square feet. Other big players have also announced their plans to shun remote working but both Google and Amazon plan to have their employees return to the office by autumn. And it’s not just employers, 60 per cent of UK employees would return to the office immediately if they could.
So, is the office set for a revival?
Virtual pub quizzes may boost spirits, but nothing will compare to the comradery of a real office. 65 per cent of companies report a struggle to maintain morale with their staff working remotely.
Humans are social creatures, and the office creates community as well as a shared purpose. A survey by YouGov found 49 per cent of staff miss the relationships they have in the office. Strong relationships are built physically, not digitally and lack of face-to-face communication can negatively impact employees’ mental health. Technology just cannot replace the support and network a physical office provides.
An office environment enables collaboration and creativity in a way that is difficult to replicate virtually. A study by Steelcase found that working from home can cause innovation to drop by 7 per cent.
In person, staff can build on each other’s ideas, and exchanges can be spontaneous, not booked into a calendar. Innovation can happen at any time and is facilitated by the unplanned encounters employees have across the office. Organisations need collaboration between employees and, ultimately, the office is the most effective place for this.
Not all employees are fortunate enough to have an adequate work from home set up, and this can affect their performance. 45 per cent of employees feel less productive due to an uncomfortable remote working setup. The office fosters a healthy work ethic and better productivity.
Employees are more efficient when in the office, as the office is the optimal environment for working – there are fewer distractions, and all employees are on an equal playing field in regards to their working environment.
Of course, that does mean a lot of thought and consideration should go into office design. Employees won’t want to stop working from home to go into an uncomfortable, uninspiring office environment.
Remote working has caused employees work-life balance to become skewed. 53 per cent of employees now feel they should be working longer hours, and always be available and almost 25 per cent of UK workers are logging off at 8 pm.
The structure of the office creates physical boundaries between staff and their workplaces, allowing them to fully disconnect and recharge so they can start the next day with an optimal mindset.
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