Almost a month after the work from home guidance was dropped we celebrate the many benefits of being back in the office.
While office life will never be the same again, there are many aspects of being back in the workplace that we really missed during the lonely lockdown days.
1. Our colleagues
Prior to the September 2021 mass return to the office, a LinkedIn survey revealed that the things people were most looking forward to about their return to the workplace, were socialising with colleagues (69 percent of respondents) and in-person collaboration (70 percent).
Nothing can beat being in the office for human connection and feeling part of a community. The office is a place where the most diverse range of people come together, where a host of different cultures, personalities, ages, backgrounds, experiences and levels of seniority collide. In this respect, the workplace is essential for creating and developing a culture of belonging, critical for staff retention.
While we very soon became accustomed to the daily routine of tumbling out of bed and moments later being sat at our home office desks, just in time for our daily team meeting, the routine of journeying to a place of work does instill a greater sense of purpose, magnified by being surrounded by colleagues all striving for a shared goal.
Working as a collective is hugely beneficial to job satisfaction and productivity, as well as that feeling of connection – to the company, colleagues, a personal sense of achievement and career goals.
3. No more Zoom
Admittedly, with the advent of hybrid working, Zoom is here to stay, so we won’t be saying goodbye to it completely, but certainly the frequency of Zoom calls should be greatly reduced.
Zoom has been a God-send over the last couple of years but inevitably we’ve missed being able to interpret the body language of fellow meeting attendees and the physical cues which are essential in order to gauge the emotions of our colleagues.
4. Creativity and learning
Working remotely meant a distinct and obvious lack of ‘watercooler’ moments. It is those moments of spontaneous face-to-face interaction which spark creativity, and this was impossible to replicate in a video conferencing scenario.
The workplace, with its informal coffee break chats and breakout space connections, provides the ideal opportunity for organic creative collaboration.
In addition, when it comes to learning opportunities, particularly for younger members of the workforce, that in-person connection is vital.
5. Work/life balance
When the pandemic hit, some of us were fortunate enough to have a semi-professional work set-up at home, but for many it was a case of creating a makeshift workspace on a kitchen table, we even heard tales of people using an ironing board to emulate a stand-up desk. Being back in the office is a return to a functional desk and ergonomic chair, so much better for our posture and physical health.
In addition, for many, a return to the office has been an opportunity to reestablish a work/life balance. It is estimated that people working from home were clocking up an average of two additional work hours every day, adding up to an entire working week per calendar month in unpaid overtime.
Whether you are back in the office full-time or you’ve adopted a hybrid working pattern, the physical workplace is here to stay and it remains integral to staff engagement, employee development, creativity, and ultimately business success.