Even though Offices of the Future look much different from the past, we indeed still need offices Post-Pandemic. We know people can be both productive and self-sufficient from home, but we have also seen the negative effects of too much self-isolation. We think the focus of conversation should shift from about space- to about people.
People want to be around other people. While remote working can be beneficial in some ways, long term remote working is not sustainable from a productivity standpoint. People will see short-term productivity, with long hours worked from home, but long-term strain without social interaction will affect "emotional motivational" energy- therefor leading to lower productivity. In a July study from economists at Harvard, Standford and New York University found that the average workday under lockdown was nearly 50 minutes longer than it was before, and that people became more likely to send emails after work hours. Simply put, remote working leads to more hours worked which makes people more likely to burnout or fall into depressive episodes.
Permanent remote working also effects quality of work experience due to lack of social interaction. Recent studies of employees working from home (MacKay, 2020) show that less-tenured employees report being less productive, requiring more direction, are less aware of what is expected of them and often have less dedicated space at home for work. They thrive with mentoring and team support provided by the office and the seniors that occupy them.
So how do we fix that moving forward? We believe the Post-Pandemic model involves curated “Collaboration Days.” These collaboration days can be held Quarterly or Monthly, where all staff plans to take part in a day full of collaboration and social interaction with each other. These days will prevent pandemic fatigue and will bring back that sense of “togetherness” that our full offices once did.
The work-from-home model has undoubtedly provided much less stress on individuals. People can perform both work and home duties during a normal “work” day. But on the flip side it requires people to be masters of multi-tasking, which is a laborious task. Bringing people back to the office gives the structure back to work days and the professionalism back to work environments. People will better be able to separate the two: work and home.