Maxwell Stephens

Why the traditional workplace is still needed in the post-lockdown world.

Amidst the fog of post-lockdown uncertainty, one idea that seems to be gaining traction is that the “traditional” workplace will not be the same; with some commenters suggesting that working in an office is no longer a necessity. Following the relative (and for many people surprising) success of home working initiatives, the point of contention seems to be whether the workplace has become obsolete considering the maintained levels of productivity during lockdown. As Facilities Management Recruitment specialists, you may think this potential workplace revolution would be a cause for concern, however we see things a bit differently…





Business premises can be incredibly influential when it comes to how stakeholders, both internal and external, form opinions of an organization. Whether it’s just subconsciously, research suggests that people will make a rapid judgement on an organization just seconds into visiting their offices. When you consider the different contexts, this could have a significant impact on business performance e.g. impact of the workplace on staff morale and productivity; perceptions formed by potential clients/customers; effect on talent acquisition etc.


Additionally, the business world is a competitive one, and in our experience this competitiveness streak definitely extends to physical premises. For many organizations their offices (particularly in the case of HQs) act as their “storefront”. They allow the business to express their ethos, corporate culture and brand values through the physical environment, as well as provide a clear indication of their success and credibility in the minds of all stakeholders who interact with the space.




Be social!


Humans are social creatures, and although the lockdown-induced remote working may be a welcome break from the office for many, we think that the novelty may soon wear off. The current crisis may indeed trigger workplace evolution in terms of increased workforce flexibility, yet it won’t eliminate the need for office space, and instead my help us appreciate its social value.


Technological advancements in communication technology, particular the prevalence of video conferencing technology, are going some way to bridging the home/office social divide, however the surprisingly important micro-interactions colleagues enjoy in a shared space are still lacking. Video chats are typically “all business”, leaving little opportunity for the important social interactions that are proven to improve staff morale and productivity. This is also vital for mental health and wellbeing when we consider that loneliness is one of the most common complaints amongst remote workers.


In addition to the social value of shared workspaces, they also greatly benefit the intellectual process of idea generation. Coming up with ideas is a dynamic process and by its very nature cannot be scheduled into organized video calls. Inspiration can strike at any time, and not being able to immediately discuss and bounce these ideas off colleagues can be extremely detrimental to on-the-job creativity.




Maintaining the work/life divide


In generations past, there were clear boundaries between home and work life, however this is no longer the case. The enhanced connectivity that technology provides means that these boundaries between home and work are becoming blurred, making it much easier for people to remain electronically connected to the office during non-work hours. On paper, this increased flexibility should be beneficial to employers and employees alike, however research suggests that this is not the case.


Studies have shown that this increased connectivity to the workplace is actually a source of anxiety for the majority of employees. Findings also suggest that even when employees do not actually spend time working at home, the mere idea that they need to stay connected can be detrimental. In many cases, this “always on” culture is implicit and becomes an unspoken expectation from the top down. The impact of such a culture is rarely considered by employers, and in fact is often disguised as an advantage in the form of flexible working or increased convenience.


Workplace cultures that expect employees to be virtually accessible 24/7 do so at great risk. Anxiety causes burnout and can lead to serious health problems for employees. Health problems lower productivity over time, resulting in distraction on the job and absenteeism. Trying to 

engage burned out, overworked and ill workers is a formidable task.


Employers that don’t give their workers any right to disconnect from the office may want to seriously consider the consequences of such a policy — and may need to look into an overhaul in their culture to keep workers from feeling as though their jobs are jeopardised if they’re not accessible 24/7.


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