The pandemic has caused significant shifts in our working world. 60 per cent of employees are still working from home and some companies have even given up their office space entirely. However, most companies actually benefit from working in an office and many employees are desperate to return. While many think the future of work must be remote, that’s not necessarily the case.
For many companies, returning to the office is necessary for productivity. A physical office enables collaboration and productivity in a way that is difficult to replicate virtually. The office is built for productivity, and remote working does not create the same level of efficiency, particularly if employees are balancing childcare and other distractions alongside their work. Indeed, 55 per cent of workers say they are both less productive and less engaged when working remotely.
The office is the most effective place for collaboration as it creates a space for employees to mix regardless of their team of role. Having all employees in a physical space encourages spontaneous exchanges, which can develop into innovative ideas. Brainstorming and ideation sessions are usually much more efficient around a table instead of over video.
Better mental wellbeing
Remote work has upset the work-life balance, and our collective mental health has suffered. 80 per cent of employees believe working from home has had a negative impact on their mental health. Many are suffering higher levels of anxiety and loneliness, with 67 per cent feeling less connected to their colleagues.
The lack of a work-life divide and being unable to switch off is contributing to these higher levels of stress and anxiety. The office fosters a healthy work ethic. Working from home has meant many employees now feel they should be available at all times. The physical difference between the office and home can enable employees to maintain a better work-life balance.
Everyone’s home situation is different, and not all employees are fortunate to have an adequate home set-up. 41 per cent of those living with multiple housemates say remote working is worse for both their health and wellbeing. Returning to the office places all employees on an equal footing in regards to their working environment, as well as allowing companies an opportunity to introduce inhouse wellbeing measures.
Going back to the office does not mean there won’t be changes. Employees now expect a more flexible work setup, with 72 per cent of workers wanting a hybrid workplace going forward. The pandemic has introduced more autonomy for workers, and the future will need to support this. Hybrid working could offer the best of both worlds for employees and employers.
Flexible working also opens up the workplace to a more diverse workforce, creating new opportunities for employees to flourish regardless of their circumstances.