Working from home…what happens when we return to work?

The current situation with COVID 19 has forced us all to assess what the conventional workplace means to us all. Why do we ‘go to work’? For years, we have worked with clients posing the very question this virus has now forced us all to confront. Some organisations are so intrinsically prepared to work from home, they are like the ducks taking to water during my Penny walks around the local canals – moving from one mode to another seamlessly. These are the companies that have already separated ‘activity’ from ‘place’. Others will struggle as they grapple with presenteeism and control.

Working from home (WFH) is not solely about IT/connectivity nor the correct ergonomic sitting position (however important these individually might be). The biggest factor in the success of home working is the culture of the organisation to empower individuals to feel they can work wherever they feel supports them best.

The big question is though – what will happen when we return to work? Many companies will realise that WFH is a viable alternative to office attendance. WFH can begin to be the cornerstone of wider flexible working and allow a rethink about the amount of space organisations need.

So, let’s list the benefits:

• Less time commuting – this time can used to better effect working/living/playing
• Less CO2 emissions traveling – good for the environment
• Less demand on infrastructure – taking strain of rail & roads at peak times
• Less space needed – environmental benefits of not building & maintaining more office space than necessary
• More choice and empowerment of users to select the time & place they undertake work activities

But what do I miss?

• Banter & camaraderie
• Other people’s musical taste (and yes – that includes you, John)
• Bouncing ideas around
• The small but valuable insights made in passing

If any good is to come from this pandemic, then it will be to dislocate the idea of workplace & work. We need to start looking at commercial property as a facilitator of activity rather than the ‘seat of power’ – it’s a village not a castle. The office will no longer be a place where stuff gets done – it will be a place where teams are built, and culture reinforced.

Once this is over, and we are through the other side, the industry needs to dust itself down and take a moment to re-evaluate workplace design. We will continue to work with people to optimise the utilisation of their space, reduce their impact on the environment and foster great places to work through great leadership, culture and support facilities….and we’ll make them look good too!

I’m working from home today…so I’m off to walk Penny whilst I make some calls.