Over the last 24 months the office has been under attack. The emergence of hybrid, a seemingly never-ending work from home mandate and government advice that has lacked clarity or real direction has led to businesses generally erring on the side of caution, with good reason. Interesting though that as we come through the latest variation of Covid (and more will follow) the same priority issues arise when considering the corporate response.
THE OFFICE: A BURDEN OR A BONUS
The measures most companies have taken to deal with the pandemic have focused to varying degrees of caution. The office has been an annoyance for many – a wasted cost that is no longer needed was the suggestion in the early days of the pandemic.
As we enter what most of us consider to be the endemic phase of Covid it is very clear that the office has come back to the forefront as THE tool with which to mend the damage done to business priorities.
2022 will see this supercharge as the value of the workplace emerges, bringing teams together, whether in short term “agile” flex spaces or long-term leasehold premises. The way space is held and the fit out of that space is less the issue – the office will be a place of purpose and the way to help rebuild culture and identity.
When looked at individually, there is a direct read across between the priority’s businesses have and the role of the office.
- The work from home approach, designed to keep staff safe has gone on too long. It’s damaging to people’s mental health and severely impacts personal development and training. Of course, agility and flexible working will likely never go for most businesses but that must be based on most employee’s time being spent collaborating properly with colleagues.
- The stability of businesses, protected at the beginning of 2020 is now under threat. A disenfranchised workforce, diluted culture and disconnected teams make every firm who is “long on work from home” vulnerable. It is true that for most companies, you can’t build a successful enterprise over Zoom.
- Delivering the best for clients is tricky. Maintaining continuity and delivery of services remotely was heroic when the stay-at-home mandate was issued. Fast forward to 2022 and there are big questions about how you can keep giving your best when you’re not actually together with colleagues sharing ideas, stories, and experiences. Serendipity is a great innovation enabler – being in a place where colleagues come together is the only way to rekindle that.
- The issue of building teams and ultimately growing a business is perhaps the hardest thing to recreate remotely. Belonging to a business, believing in a mission, and delivering against goals can only be instilled, corralled, and measured by spending time together. There is no alternative. Being remote not only makes staff remote it also makes the chances of ultimate success remote.
A WORKFORCE VALUE ADD
So, for all the reasons we know and whether we care to acknowledge it or not, having a place to call the corporate home, delivering a space that is exciting, relevant, and purposeful is the only way to rebuild and thrive. As the year progresses more and more businesses will see the value of the office, recognise the folly of being separate and focus once again on creating amazing workplaces for their people and clients whilst delivering the best quality work delivered by connected and strengthened teams.