An extra hour in bed. Zoom calls in your pyjamas. The working from home revolution is being touted to long outlive the pandemic that gave birth to it and is being described as the future of modern professional life. However, are we at risk of getting carried away with the hype? Is a full, all guns blazing, switch to working from home actually beneficial for companies, the economy or, most importantly, workers themselves?
Apparently, this revolution has been met with a collective sigh of relief from London’s commuters in particular. Liberated from the sweaty captivity of a Northern line train, workers are supposedly more efficient and productive working out of the comfort of their living rooms. The experts seem to love it too, calculating reductions in business costs across the board. However, whilst on an Excel spreadsheet, such changes appear effective, the reality is rather different…
Working from home may be a convenient, relaxed alternative for the 50 somethings, working out of a 5-bedroom semi-detached house in Surrey. However, many regular office commuters, particularly young professionals, don’t have access to purpose-built home offices, kitted out with ergonomic chairs and fancy espresso machines on standby. The reality is that many young professionals are confined to small studio flats, busy family homes or are even, forced to work off a small table in a crowded coffee shop.
Currently, there are 8.2 million single-person households in the UK. Many professionals are, therefore, relying upon the office environment for more than just work. It’s where we gym, where we flirt, where we celebrate birthdays and where we sneak away for coffee and cigarette breaks. Therefore, working from home may be a convenient option at first, however, can quickly become lonely and demotivating, especially within a single-person household. This leads to a drain in creativity and productivity.
Seeing the office as a hub for day-to-day life, as well as just graft, reveals the hidden economic benefits of the office space, lost through working from home. Creative stimulation through co-working and social interaction leads to ideas and innovation, which in turn, boosts a company’s productivity and ultimately, profits.
Losing the office environment leads towards the loss of all these invisible gains. The experts aggressively pushing for a working from home revolution are forgetting the years of building up contacts, eavesdropping on conversations and learning tips and tricks that they themselves have benefitted from.
Therefore, the next time you see revolutionary calls to liberate commuters from the office splashed across the morning paper, think twice about what the office space represents. At AW, liberation means something completely different. We want to liberate professionals from potentially demotivating and lonely bedrooms-cum-offices-cum-meeting rooms, welcoming them back into our modern, smart co-working space that is, post-lockdown, making us fall in love with the office all over again.