Whilst working from home in your slippers seemed like a novelty at first, there are undeniable benefits to office life that we will have a newfound appreciation for now that people are returning to their workspaces. We’ve been thinking about the things we have missed most about the office, and definitely won’t take for granted now normality is resuming.
It is a lot easier to get quick feedback and have impromptu catch ups with people in the office. Sometimes a quick nod or couple of words is all you need to help with a project you’re working on, whereas working remotely you have to set up a zoom call, or wait for somebody to reply to an email. When the team is all together in an office it is so much easier to feel inspired and motivated, the camaraderie and buzz of office life is near impossible to replicate whilst working from home alone.
Face to face interactions
Whether it is a Monday morning catch up about the weekend’s antics, or a running office joke that turns into an after work drink, the daily interactions we used to take for granted help strengthen working relationships and provide a break from the monotony of the working day. You can’t quite capture that spirit when you’re at home doing your morning pep talks via Zoom, stopping and starting as people speak over each other. Being in the office also provides opportunities to randomly network with people as they come and go, maybe from different companies or industries. The opportunities to learn, network and collaborate in an office environment are endless.
Routine of a structured work day
The days all start to blur into one when the normal increments of a daily routine do not exist. The activity of showering, getting dressed, making breakfast, leaving the house, all help to wake you up and prepare you for the day ahead. At the end of the day, shutting the laptop and leaving the office signals the end of the working day, whereas many people working from home have found themselves working longer hours as the boundaries between work and home life have become blurred.
Not everybody has a printer, dual screen set-up and ergonomic office chair at home. Many people working from makeshift home offices on kitchen tables found themselves with not enough room, unreliable internet connections, and no stationary cupboard to raid when a random envelope or stapler is needed. Not to mention the luxury of a whiteboard to brainstorm ideas and see a visual representation of their ideas.
Granted, at first this seemed like one of the things we didn’t miss about office life. However, for people who commute to work on foot, this journey provided a half hour to switch off and listen to a podcast whilst getting some steps in. Or, for people that did have to endure some form of public transport, there was still the headspace to immerse yourself in a new audiobook, or people watch and enjoy having nothing to do but focus on reaching your destination.
No distractions, more space
For those not lucky enough to have a private home office, many spent their time working from home with new co-workers in the form of pets, family or housemates. I’m sure we have all been on a Zoom call that was interrupted by an inquisitive child, barking dog or crying baby and laughed it off, but it soon becomes tiresome and the sanctity of a private meeting room seemed like a distant luxury of the olden days.
Fancy salads with grains you can’t pronounce, sandwiches on artisan bread, barista coffees and pastries. They all taste better when they’re prepared by a professional and only take 5 minutes to wait for. Whilst we’re on the topic of food, when you’re in the office the chances are that it is somebody’s birthday or some kind of celebration – which means cake! You don’t have to feel guilty about one slice during a celebration. It isn’t quite the same atmosphere if you’re sitting at home eating a full cake for yourself now, is it?
IT problems, empty soap dispensers, full waste paper bins and mail sorting. A small example of issues you didn’t have to worry about in the office, because there was a facilities manager on hand to make your life easier. When you’re working from home you have to take on the added job roles of cafe manager, facilities manager, cleaner and personal assistant – which really makes you appreciate how much more time you have to focus on your actual job when you’re in the office.