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Adapting to Working Remotely and Returning to the Office

Over the past few months, many people have had to adapt to new ways of working. Many around the world have fully adjusted—some happily, others less so—to be working remotely.

Temporary couch setups have been replaced by standup desks and ergonomic chairs in proper home offices with the longer term in mind.

Moving forward into 2021, we are now facing a new possibility: returning to the workplace. Whether you’re going back full time or with a hybrid office-and-home role, things are going to look different.

Working From Home

Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University professor studying remote work, says that while his research has shown that people are 13% more productive when working from home, creativity suffers. “Home is quieter,” says Bloom. “The problem is home is not very creative.” That’s because creativity is difficult without collaboration.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the potential end of office space is the loss of connection that forms an office culture, social interactions and company identity. Whether it’s early mornings in the office alone or walking with a colleague to lunch down the street, working from home disrupts the rituals of the traditional office.

The Traditional Office

More than just work, an office fosters an environment rich in training, mentorship and collaboration. “In the best modern workplaces, there’s a range of different types of working environments all in the same building. This helps stimulate creativity as well as co-worker bonding.” says Sally Augustin, a Chicago-area environmental and design psychologist.

Well-designed meeting spaces can contribute to a culture of learning and knowledge sharing, while amenities, access to natural light and other aesthetic features tend to promote feelings of vitality. For some, instead of work environments optimized for job performance, they are juggling work, caring for family members and home schooling from the same domestic space.

No matter which direction we head in the future, the office will continue to be important for many companies and the benefits of an office environment will remain as essential as ever.

Flexible Work and Spaces

While the future is uncertain, one thing is for sure: a change has been ignited. This is where flexible workspaces come in, as working from home is not sustainable in the long run.

It’s about creating an environment where colleagues and coworkers have more freedom. Making it easy for people to move around, make the space their own and take full advantage of the many facilities and amenities, rather than being stuck in one spot.

The prospect of reopening offices right now is daunting, as the safety of shared spaces remains an open question. But the solution isn’t losing offices all together. People are social beings who require interaction, and those based at home are missing the intrinsic human experience of working together. Offices aren’t just places for work, work, work — they’re physical spaces where people come together to assure one another that they’re still here. We still need offices for the same reasons that people are pining for a safe way to have a pint at the pub or a day at the beach. We still need offices because we still need each other.