Are you a roaring coal or dying ember? – The role of the post-COVID office

Are you a roaring coal or dying ember? – The role of the post-COVID office -

David Johnston July 22, 2020

So a month or so into the COVID-19 lock-down and some were proclaiming the death of the office, with remote working deemed the way forward for many traditional office based workers.

Sure many people can technically do the vast majority of their jobs anywhere with a semi-decent wifi connection, but a few more months in and that ‘death to the office’ narrative has certainly begun to change and the true role of the office has become much more apparent . It is often said that it is only until you can’t have something that you really begin to value it, and the office seems to fit in nicely into this category. So what are we missing?

It is not really about missing the office itself, although if you are working from a cramped apartment competing for space with flatmates, spouses or kids, then you might strongly argue that the office and its relative serene environment with superfast wifi, oodles of space and (often) much better coffee is obviously preferable.

No, the true role of the office is about bringing people together, the importance of which has become more apparent with every passing week. You can break it down into the three C’s.

Culture – The culture of a company has been described as a shared set of values, goals, attitudes and practices. It’s the way people feel about the work they do, the values they believe in, where they see the company going and what they’re doing as a team to get it there. Companies are currently living off culture built pre-COVID, but with new employees currently being hired and joining companies remotely and also leaders expecting to help build and lead teams within that culture, can that be done effectively over Zoom calls?
Creativity – Ok the caveat being that I’m not saying you can’t be creative or solve problems by yourself, there are many famous tales from history such as Newton and his falling apple, and the Greek mathematician Archimedes and his bath, that suggest otherwise. Being creative is about being at your absolute best to solve problems, create new solutions and add value for whatever area you work in and not just going through the motions and “doing your job”. To be at your absolute best I would argue that you need to be in the right environment and people are critical to this. Working together to brainstorm solutions, or simply having someone at hand to pep you up if you are having a bad day.

I would liken the office to being the roaring fire and the office worker being a piece of coal. Away from the office sure you will keep your heat, creativity and enthusiasm for a while, but you will quite quickly risk becoming a dying ember if you stay away from the strength and community of the main fire constantly

Connections – On a work and personal level . Real connections are important and actually probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of going to work. Relationships both professional and personal are built at the office and can last a life-time. Without those real connections the short-term feeling can be one of loneliness and we are already seeing this in this COVID-19 environment. Longer term without the ability to connect with colleagues and clients alike in person, then this would be a huge loss to the value we get from our working lives..

Why are people now coming back to the office?
It doesn’t matter if you normally worked at a centrally managed company office, or a shared flexible office / coworking space, the above rules are largely the same and at MyWorkSpot we have certainly seen this.

Sure there have been some people coming back primarily for physical office reasons such as need for quiet work space away from the kids or building work and dealing with iffy wi-fi. However the vast majority now coming back have been because of the need to see and interact with real people. This has included individuals wanting to deal with the loneliness and lack of motivation they have felt when working by themselves. Managers bringing teams together to meet once or twice a week (and yes in some cases because they wanted to keep an eye on progress!). We have an example of a corporate team whose head office is still closed, now working from MyWorkSpot 3+ times a week, simply because they want to work alongside and engage with colleagues, even though they could solely work from home if they wanted to. Interestingly some of these colleagues are actually travelling further to Maidenhead than they would to get to their normal office! We also now have examples of new hire on-boarding and training being done at MyWorkSpot, because first impressions and building that initial relationship just cannot be not done as well remotely.

So what does the future hold post COVID-19? Well it certainly seems that home working has already become more accepted and valued. However the role of the office is also secure as a hub for people to drive culture, creativity and connections. Employees will be given more freedom to find the most effective working solution for themselves and that may mean head office, local flexible workspace, or home working, or maybe a hybrid part-time combination of all three.

MyWorkSpot Maidenhead – 2 day free pass offer

We are a flexible office and coworking hub based in Maidenhead offering full-time, part-time and PAYG desks and private offices, as well as meeting rooms and event space. As well as local businesses based  full-time,  we have many corporate commuters who live locally and come to MWS to work or have meetings as part of their weekly routine. We also act as a satellite office for some company teams whose head office is elsewhere, but want a regular base to work and meet closer to home. 

If you live in or close to Maidenhead, come and check us out. For those new to MWS, we are giving away two free day passes to come and try out what we think is a better way of working. 

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