The resumption of a more traditional world in 2021 or 2022 will significantly change the conventional office space. Some even predict that the office will become a thing of the past as people continue to work remotely permanently.
There has long been a trend of people working remotely, which was significantly sped up by the pandemic. However, we also know the potential problems with only working from home – there is a good reason why most people tend to work from home 3 or 4 days a week, then go into the office for 1 or 2 days.
We disagree that offices will disappear – it is far more likely that they will evolve into something more adaptable. In this article, we’ll look at why we don’t believe that offices will go away – and how they will likely change.
What Changed and Why Do People Think That Offices Will Be Obsolete?
Technology has been revolutionizing the office space for decades. It has made working remotely an increasingly more viable option for both employees and companies for the last decade or so. Since people can work from home – or from pretty much anywhere with WiFi – some people think it is a sign that the traditional office is a thing of the past.
What the Office Offers Employees
People used to need to spend all day at work, even office workers. Homes didn’t have the necessary tools to complete work projects or paperwork. With video conferencing, fast internet, and cloud-based everything, working remotely has become a lot more practical.
While it is possible to work from home, there are still some things that a person can only get in the office.
- A workspace for teams to talk and collaborate more efficiently.
- A place to socialize, both about work and personal lives.
- An excellent place for learning and mentoring new employees and training people into new positions.
Most people can easily be productive at home, but what they can accomplish in the office is different, particularly teamwork—merely having a choice where they want to work can make employees more productive. Some days they may need to connect with their team, and other days they may want to be left alone for more “heads down” work.
A combination of an office setting, and a home office can enhance an employee’s productivity because it offers a choice based on what a person needs to do that day. This means changing the office to maximize the productivity that is best done in the office. Staff members need a place to collaborate with all of the tools they require and a big enough space for those productive meetings and dedicated training areas. It is also important to have quiet spaces where people can work following meetings and training sessions.
A More Traditional and Comfortable Social Setting
Many people learned while working from home in 2020 is the lesson that remote workers have been promoting for years – offices provide a type of socialization that is mostly absent from 100% remote working.
The ability to interact in person helps to build relationships and teams. The socialization that occurs in offices can mean the difference between a project’s success and its failure. People build up trust and friendships with the people in the office. It also really helps to have a face and mannerisms to go with a name. Having an idea of what a person has been through because of that social chatter can make people more open to listening to criticism and new ideas.
The pandemic has taught us that no video conferencing can replace that in-person social interaction.
Social interactions also make it more likely that people will take breaks to give them a quick mental reboot. Whether that means going and getting a drink or just getting up to walk around, people are much more likely to do that in an office. When working at home, people tend to get lost in work. Any interruptions that they have are due to their personal life, and that is not going to be a relaxing break or help them reset their mind for the next task.
Office buildings have typically had large areas for social interactions, like the cafeteria or meeting rooms. These social interaction areas have been productive both for giving people a mental break, or when they talk about work, they could be inspired by the change. Employees are also more likely to speak freely in these spaces, boosting their productivity or finding new solutions to current issues.
The Best Place to Learn the Ropes
One thing that cannot be replaced by working remotely full time is the training that occurs in the office. This is particularly true for new employees who are not accustomed to working in an office. It is the best place to nurture their understanding of their role in the company, fit into the team and learn how to navigate the company’s processes and procedures. That experience really cannot be replaced in a remote environment.
All new employees need a chance to understand the company’s culture. This requires that staff be available to help with the training and mentoring. It is much better to have multiple people available to help a new employee – in person – and not just from a screen. Over time everyone will get a better understanding of the new employee’s abilities as well. It is much easier to help new employees feel like a part of the team and think of them as members of the team with in-person interaction.
Altered, Not Obsolete
As we advance, we see the office space becoming a much more flexible and agile environment designed to accommodate a variety of working styles to accommodate a more flexible workforce, focusing on the collaborative and social areas absent in a more remote workforce.