A new year means new ideas, perspectives and a new lease of energy.
For some business leaders, it seems like the holiday period was spent thinking about how much they missed having people in their offices. Along came January 2023, and afresh wave of office mandates appeared.
The office has become a polarising topic of conversation over the last few years. Depending on home lives, financial situations and the nature of the work people are doing - increased time spent in the office may or may not appeal.
What is apparent is that many companies aren’t conveying the reasons they want people back - and no, we aren’t talking about an expensive lease - it’s the reasons that the office should appeal to people. Whether you plan on keeping your current model, or want an increased office presence, you need to ensure you are clear on why this is.
So, what are your office ‘whys’?
No, not ‘presenteeism’. What we’re talking about is the chance to build rapport, short-hand, trust, and confidence within teams and the wider company. For juniors or people new to the company, being in-office gives them a chance to know different functions of the wider business - so don’t just confine them to their team! Focusing on activities, meetings and social events on ‘in days’ will mean that the office serves its purpose in actually connecting people.
The permanence of written communication (and the awkwardness of video calls) mean that people often won’t suggest ideas or ask questions for fear of sounding ‘stupid’. In order to be creative at work, people need the space and safety to expel their bad ideas, so they can get to the good ones - and that’s a tricky thing to replicate when working from home!
Offices can bring the potential for more efficient collaboration. Walking over to someone’s desk to ask a quick question vs. calling them (or even worse, emailing them to see if they are free)? We know which one we would pick! Working face-to-face with teams also means people can quickly gauge others’ workloads, and allows for a more ‘divide and conquer’ approach to hopefully combat burnout. It’s really worth noting that this will differ greatly from team-to-team, and you will need to have those conversations to know how different teams work best.
Nobody wants to spend their entire day hunched over a computer, in a room full of people doing exactly the same thing. In order to make the office an attractive proposition; there needs to be some thought put into what’s on offer. Break-out rooms for meetings, casual seating options for brainstorming, quiet rooms for people who need to get their heads down, space for socialising at the end of the day. Home set-ups are often very limited, and with a bit of thought, the office can become an attractive space to work.
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