The many benefits of returning to the office
As the UK opens up for business, we look at the reasons why managers and their employees are keen to get back in the workplace.
Some 60% of UK employees would return to work immediately if they could, according to a survey from financial services company Jeffries. But why does the majority of the country’s workforce want to head back to the office? We take a look…
To build a better routine
Many of us started working from home with hopes of organising our days more efficiently, but for a number of people things haven’t worked out that way. Hours spent in front of makeshift desks in dining rooms and on kitchen work surfaces have made it difficult to separate our home and work lives. In fact, the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) found that 48% of workers are putting in longer and more irregular hours than they would do when working in an office.
Commuting to work is the perfect way to shift the work life balance away from deadlines and documents to something better suited for employees. Once you’re already out of the home, those trips to the gym or that half hour spent reading on your lunch break seem much more manageable. Office workers returning to their desks are much more likely to lead a structured lifestyle.
To boost the economy
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that the UK’s GDP could lose out on £15.3 billion per year if office-based workers are advised to work from home rather than return to the office. Their forecast mentions a loss of clustering benefits between businesses and workers as one of two reasons that domestic product will fall. For example, consumers are more likely to spend money when it’s convenient, so a number of companies working in close proximity to each other could encourage sales.
Secondly, the lower spending on goods and services when working from home doesn’t bode well for business. Home-made lunches and savings on commuting costs negatively impact the economy. In a world where employees continue to work from home, some sectors will suffer more than others and their employees could see their pay reduced. With less disposable income available GDP will also tumble. When managers invite their staff to return to work, they’re also boosting business beyond their own industry.
To rekindle relationships
Video calls have helped us to stay connected while working from home but it’s clear that nothing beats talking to others in person. More than 57% of UK office staff polled by YouGov said they miss having in-person conversations with their colleagues. Although relationships have adapted while we’ve worked from home, it’s clear that the best way to maintain and boost friendships across teams is to welcome staff back to their place of work.
It isn’t just the conversations that employees are craving but the friendships they share with their colleagues too. The same YouGov survey found that 49% of office staff miss the relationships forged in the office. Catch-ups in common areas and shared lunch breaks seem to lead to meaningful relationships that are difficult to replicate away from the workplace.
To improve efficiency
Some employees are less efficient when working remotely and figures from the Office for National Statistics appear to agree. Of all the employees who worked from home in April 2020, over a third (34.4%) worked fewer hours than usual. But how many hours have been lost while teams work remotely? PwC research suggests that if businesses continue to work from home rather than in the office, the resulting lost time is equivalent to losing 250,000 jobs per year.
Sharing an office with colleagues also improves communication. A 2014 study found that delays as small as 1.2 seconds on phones or video calls, make people perceive responders as less friendly or focused. However, in-person conversations reduce the possibility of these misunderstandings and help to establish smoother work processes. When employees return to their desks, we can expect teams to work more efficiently with one another and to use their time more effectively.
To use the best tools for the job
According to a survey from employee engagement experts Wildgoose, 45% of UK employees feel less productive due to an uncomfortable home working setup. The IES’ Working at Home Wellbeing Survey found that complaints of neck pain have risen by 58% and complaints about back pain have increased by 55% as a result of working from home. The DIY desks and spaces we’ve been using simply aren’t good enough to work from for extended periods of time.
Working in an office ensures employees are given a quiet space where they can concentrate on the task at hand. How many times have you wished for a second screen to quickly refer to documents? Or hoped for a faster broadband connection for a video call that doesn’t drop out when its your turn to speak? When managers ask their staff to return to workplaces, like our own serviced offices, they can expect high quality furnishings, reliable broadband connections and a professional environment perfectly suited for work.