Is the In-Person Office “Cancelled”?
The in-person office is here to stay.
Offices used to be the place you worked because you couldn’t do your work anywhere else. In many industries, this isn’t the case anymore. With modern technology, you could be staying in Canada and doing work for your job in the UK. Besides some potentially challenging time zone coordination, your job can continue as normal whether you're in the office or out of it. So does that mean this is the end of the office? We don’t think so.
Here are a few reasons (of many) the office is here to stay:
Let’s think all the way back to February 2020 (we know, it seems like forever ago). You sat at your desk in the office and heard the click-clack of keyboards and the ring of phones. There was also something else: chatter. Whether it was a simple “how’s your day?” or a discussion about a specific project, it was there and it connects you with others.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic really lit up in the United States in March 2020, many people have had to convert dining tables and ironing boards to desks. If you live with kids, family, or roommates, you’ve definitely experienced distractions. If you live alone, you may spend the day bouncing ideas off your dog, which obviously isn’t ideal.
While we definitely encourage you to make your home office as homey and productive as possible, we understand that collaboration with coworkers is just better in person. Nothing beats the ability to swivel your chair or meet at the coffee maker to have a quick chat with a coworker instead of scheduling a video call. Experts and executives agree, “The office gives [employees] a place to connect with their teams, to collaborate, to share ideas and unleash their potential and creativity,” said Kamya Miglani, the Director of Corporate Solutions Research for JLL Asia Pacific.
You’ve heard the expression “a happy wife means a happy life.” It’s the same in the workplace -- happy workers are harder workers. In the next 5 years, 75% of the workforce is predicted to be millennials. Research shows that though most millennials are tech-savvy and appreciate the flexibility of working from home, time in the office is crucial for their happiness. Forbes lists relationships in its top 4 ways to retain millennial employees. Though many people have been adapting during this time of video meetings, it’s just not the same as being around people.
To attract top-quality talent and ensure your hardest workers stick with you, employee happiness should be one of your top priorities. Though office use looks different than it did when 2020 began, it still makes a big difference in how your employees feel.
A Sense of Purpose
In every successful company, if you ask an employee what the “why” or the purpose of their company is, they will give you an answer (and their answer is always something other than “to make money”). But as people, we often need reminders ourselves of why we get up every day to go to work, hopefully at a job where we believe in the “why” of the company.
People are motivated by many things, like family, passion, ambition, money, and love. But they’re also motivated by the enjoyment they get out of their work environment. If they’re alone in their homes for 8-10 hours opposite to the hours they sleep, people may eventually start to feel lonely or experience doubt. Don’t let your employees doubt their purpose in your company! The office can act as a physical reminder for why they choose to do what they do each day, and that they are not alone.
Offices Serve as Anchors
When someone asks you about your job, they often ask some variation of “Where is it located?” Jo Meunier says offices aren’t going away completely because they are “physical manifestations of the company.” Meunier also says the office is like the “center of gravity” for a company. As human beings we weren’t designed to live lives purely composed of virtual interactions.
So is the office “cancelled”? Not in our book. Not by a long shot.