Do we need the office to work well?

With the return to the office underway, many are choosing to work remotely, asking the question, do we need to office to work well?

Social interaction

person sitting beside table

The office can be a haven for those who found the lockdown situation of working from home isolating. Humans are social creatures, whether we admit it or not; being able to interact with others is a crucial part of not only receiving adequate mental stimulation but undertaking social and emotional actions to function normally. From turn-taking during conversations to facial expressions, social interaction is a validating part of the human society. Sometime that was limited during 2020.

Given this, the degree of which someone requires social interaction varies. For many, social interaction from others during the working day is key. On the one hand, social interaction during the working day can be found virtually through the use of different meeting platforms however, there are limits to these. For instance, during a meeting, though you may hear someone talk, most of the time employees prefer to keep their cameras off, removing the visual interaction aspect.

While the days of cubical desk spaces may be a reminder of the 9-5 grind of the 80s, modern day offices tend to be arranged in with a better flow. With more inviting communal spaces and brighter desk areas, the modern-day office has taken a step forward on the interior evolution path.

Being able to see someone in person opens the door for more intellectual cues and can help develop more meaningful relationships. As Forbes insights states 85% of people develop better business relationships in person.

However, individuals who obtain the majority of their social interaction for other external areas in their lives may not see the office as an answer to this issue, if not having the issue of lack of social interaction at all.  

Due to the high volume of people, the office may be more of a distraction. At least with TEAMS you can mute a message and come back to it.

Creative bounce off

people seated on table in room

Creative workers or those whose job involves idea generation may find spending time in the office beneficial. Being able to bounce off of others to share creative insights helps expand their horizons when it comes to planning projects.

If you are a creative individual, you know all too well the feeling of hitting a blank page, where no matter how hard you think, no new idea can be manifested. It is in these instances being able to brainstorm with others can help clear the cobwebs.

Bespoke offerings

person holding burger bun with vegetables and meat

Everyone like an added extra. Free breakfast, free lunch, Friday beers, it is some of these added perks that draw individuals to the office.

However, the most important aspect is the different workspace options. If your home doesn’t double as a suitable work zone, then the office can be seen as a lifesaver, especially if your office has become the kitchen table. Having the option to separate work from home can be a big positive.


white and black yearly planner notebook

Planning to go into the office is a big part of someone’s routine, taking a substantial chunk of time out of their day. Planning what time to get up, what train to get, making sure your food is sorted for the day, changing into smart clothes, all these things build the perfect routine, something a lot of individuals scrimped on during lockdown.

But those who thrive working from home will have already adapted to these, in fact those who prefer to work from home are more likely to be productive at home than in the office. Why is this? The ability to choose their own work environment and surroundings means they can work the way that best suits them.

The work-life balance

black and brown office rolling chair

On the flip side the office could be seen as a hinderance to the work-life balance. Having to commute into the office means that for those who live further away, the committee is seen as an added extra to the working day, meaning personal things are picked up later. While you may work a 9 - 5 if an issue occurs and you don’t have the means to work from home, you may find yourself in the office longer before even making the journey home.

The positive of remote working means that employers are being mor flexible with working hours. With a as long as the work is done mindset, many individuals found that WFH boosted their productivity. It also meant that work didn’t have to form the centre of each day or having to compromise when it came to a personal life. From taking the former commute time to log on early so you could pick your child up from school, to staying on longer in the evening so that you didn’t have to rush your lunch appointment, working from home, when used correctly can ensure that both parties don’t have to compromise.


Different stressors

man wearing white top using MacBook

We also have to discuss the impact of different stressors what come into play when working in the office such as being late due to traffic. From constant questions from colleagues, to impromptu meetings, these interruptions can make your day feel like the stop-start engine of a Prius in M25 rush hour traffic.

The office is no longer what it used to be, a rigid place where it is the only place work can happen. While we can’t eliminate this space entirely, for it provides a haven for a multitude of different reasons, having the office as an add-on to the way we work is without a doubt the best way forward. Allowing individuals to chosen when best to use this space and for specific reasons can not only alleviate stress caused by having the office as a requirement but make working more enjoyable.

Images courtesy of Unsplash