As we emerge from lockdown and many employees tentatively return to the office, the future of the workplace has become a hot topic. Here, we set out why we think offices are still so important – particularly for those starting out in their career.
Whether it is a financial or a social decision, Millennials* are much more likely to house-share or live in smaller properties which means that they may not have the space to set up an office – or even a desk – in their home. A cursory look at social media platform, Twitter, reveals a multitude of stories from young people who are living, sleeping and working in the same room, or who are working sat on the edge of their bed with their laptops perched on a bedside table. From a business perspective, this isn’t good for productivity but there are also serious health implications that come with using furniture that isn’t suitable for posture. Add to that the possibility of poor home bandwidth and the feelings of isolation often associated with working alone and you could well end up with staff morale taking a nosedive. In the office, you can be sure that your furniture and the wider environment is set up to support employee wellbeing.
The office environment is so important to career development, particularly for those who are new to a role. While it is still possible to learn from others if you are not in the office with them it is more challenging. Nothing beats being near to colleagues, asking questions and picking up tips. Likewise, understanding a company’s culture can be done remotely but being in an office where the space lives and breathes it makes this process much easier. For many, the workplace is the physical heart and soul of a business. It can be hard to maintain a positive office culture and provide sufficient support systems when colleagues are working in isolation.
We’re not talking about team lunches at the latest culinary hotspot (although who doesn’t love that) – we mean the relationship building and friendship forming that is so important to workplace culture. A recent survey by Lambert Smith Hampton states that 61% of workers said reduced social interaction was the biggest disadvantage of working from home. Yes, relationships can be formed over a Zoom call but is it really the same as a Monday morning debrief over the first brew of the day or those chance water-cooler conversations that have you laughing until lunch? Building working relationships remotely only gets more difficult when your unfamiliar with a company – or the working world entirely. This makes the office environment even more important for Millennial colleagues.
There is no denying that workplaces will need to adapt to accommodate physical distancing and other safety measures, but offices remain critical for so many reasons. If you’re planning a return to the office, now could be the perfect opportunity to update your office design.
*If you don’t know your Millennials from your Baby Boomers, you’re not alone! Millennials are most commonly outlined as those born between 1981 and 1996 – but some definitions put them anywhere between 1980–2000.