After 18 months of working from home, it’s safe to say we’ve all developed new habits and routines to help make this way of working work best for us. Now, as we look to return to the office, we’ll need to decide which habits we want to keep and which ones we’ll be leaving behind. Here’s our list of the working from home habits to keep (and the one’s to ditch!)
At the start of the pandemic, we kept up appearances. We brushed off the blazer for Teams meetings and shimmied into our shirts for Zoom calls. Then something happened. We realised we’re just as productive in our trainers as we are in our ties! Slowly but surely, the suits got put to the back of the wardrobe.
As a society, we’ve been drifting away from formal office dress codes for a while, but the pandemic has really made us stop and consider how we dress for work. Some people enjoy getting suited and booted as it helps to put them into ‘work mode’ and create separation between office and home life. Others feel more productive when they are comfortable and dress in lounge wear. What’s become clear is that there isn’t a right or wrong answer. One size does not fit all (excuse the pun).
Of course, we’re not advocating for people to come into the office in their pyjamas. Clothing choices need to be respectful to colleagues and clients. There are also certain professions or one-off occasions in many jobs that require more formal wear or a uniform. But where possible, we’d love to see employees be given the same freedom over their attire in the office as they have while working from home.
It’s not just our place of work that’s changed as a result of the pandemic. We’ve had to make changes to our ways of working and working hours too. Some of us did it out of necessity (yes, we’re blaming you home-schooling). Others started to voluntarily explore the benefits of working outside of a set 9 – 5 pattern.
And what has this taught us? Much like clothing, what works for some doesn’t work for others. Some people do their best work in a morning. Other people like to structure their day around school drop-off and pick-up times. Some have energy dips in the afternoon and find themselves completely unproductive for an hour.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve had the freedom to work with our own strengths and weaknesses and set our own hours – and we’ve generally been happier and more productive as a result. There’s no reason this has to change when we return to the office.
Just when we’ve finally got used to unmuting ourselves, the prospect of returning to the office means the likelihood of fewer video calls. A few months ago, we might have cheered (Zoom fatigue is real!). But now we’re finding ourselves missing the prospect of those floating heads on our screen.
Now bear with us with this one. There really is no substitute for face-to-face communication. But don’t you find video calls… convenient? For one, you don’t have to travel to a video meeting. But they’re also quicker to convene. Need a quick decision? Pop a 30 min Zoom meeting in with the right people and you can be on your way with a project that afternoon. Try to get the same people together in-person and it could take weeks to find a suitable time.
That being said, sometimes only face-to-face will do. Planning meetings, workshops and creative sessions are usually much more effective in person as conversations flow and ideas get bounced around. There will be times when a video call is a lifesaver but isn’t it great to have a choice of both?
The last 18 months have given us more freedom and choice over our work habits than ever before. We’ve had a unique opportunity to try out different things and see what works best for us. And we’ve shown that our jobs can be done outside the traditional ‘office norms’.
If you’re returning to the office, speak to your manager about what positive and productive homeworking habits you’d like to bring with you. This is your chance to shape the future of your office for the better.
If your office currently isn’t set up to accommodate this new way of working then speak to us. With some simple office design changes we can create a flexible working environment to suit your team.