Will there ever be a return to the office?

Apr 27, 2021 editor

The concept of no office space is about choice, flexibility and freedom in the work place. Having trust within the team to manage their time remotely in an agile environment is heralded as creating better engagement but required a leap of faith that was never considered by mainstream workplaces until Covid hit.

The purpose of the office as a go to destination was becoming a strain on infrastructure, where the 9 to 5 day remained unchallenged.

Workspace commitment was focused:

1st place- place of work

2nd place- client’s place of work

3rd place – home

There is now a shift to destination space becoming the third place and home working becoming the first place norm.

There is likely to be a culture of the 3rd space- office, only being used for specific reasons whereby there is added value or experience and the word experience will become expectation.

We used to marvel at the Googles of this world, focusing on experience in workplace and rewarding with employee trust. We are now faced with a world in which this will likely be the case in most workplaces where there must be a work from home option and individuals will go into a destination workplace only for experiences such as brand, quality, allure, and when attracting talent.

The workplace does offer a sense of culture and is a facilitator, an enabler and about the people. We need people to have a collective agreement through good working relations ships and this is very difficult to pursue remotely through technology.

We have utilised new ways of working to manage disparate teams through use of technology, but this has identified a skills gap which had to be very quickly filled through tolerance and a great deal of patience. We have all hosted a meeting on Teams and 3 minutes in, realised we are on mute. This challenge and move out of our comfort zone, has made us a more holistic work force; seeing into colleagues’ home life, family and décor has allowed us to see a softer side and possibly made hierarchy more accessible. Technology has been a leveller.

There is a saying that 'Culture will eat Strategy for breakfast'- we need to ensure that we are not failing our businesses in terms of strategy, because we no longer have a collective culture and shared practice. Red Box hope that the workplace will survive not only in businesses where it is necessary, but as a grounding for essential interactions and as spaces for social face to face contact which motivates, inspires, and creates the business culture.