By Paul White, Agency Director
Six weeks in lockdown have changed the way we all do business.
We’ve all quickly become accustomed to hosting video meetings via applications such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. There is still lots to learn in using the facilities to get the most out of them, but the smart businesses will do this.
Without doubt many will have found advantages to remote working, and for those who usually have to battle rush hour in busy cities at the beginning and end of the day, I can see why the recent changes have been fully embraced.
Yet, when we emerge out of these difficult days and back into a world where restrictions on movement are lifted, I really can’t foresee a situation where the work office becomes largely redundant and most businesses switch to allowing people to work flexibly and from home.
Yes, I’ve heard many people talking about how much they have enjoyed working from home during lockdown.
Equally though I have spoken to many who are keen to get back to the office and simply find themselves more distracted and less productive than when in an office environment.
It all depends on the individual businesses, the kind of work they are in, and the individuals they employ.
At Garness Jones we already have some key staff members who regularly work flexibly from home at appropriate times. In particular team members who have to produce highly detailed reports which requires a quiet environment are able to work without being disturbed.
Staff that are allowed to do this have the experience and professionalism to ensure this works for them, in a place where they can do the very best work.
Equally, we have a team who work in commercial property agency buying and selling who I know benefit from a more vibrant atmosphere and one where a feel of the market activity and conditions can be established and understood.
I think one of the great benefits of the office environment is the camaraderie and human interaction it brings, the sense of belonging to a business and team, and the agility to react and make quick decisions based on input from a number of people.
I think that as much as we have all found video conference calls efficient and effective, they will perhaps never be able to match that face to face impact.
What I am sure we will see, without doubt, is a change. The days of long journeys for short meetings could certainly become a thing of the past.
I’m sure this situation will also have opened up the minds of the more traditional business owners who have been forced to adapt to technology and have seen how beneficial it can be.
I expect we’ll still see the demand for offices from many businesses, and an increase in the number of companies prepared to work in a more flexible manner with a mix of office and remote staff.
The office space itself I see as being more informal, flexible and imaginative. I think we have moved from work offices being of better quality than home offices to the other way round in the last 10 years, so the work office environment will have to match the best bits of the home office in terms of fit out and bring the qualities of interaction in the work place.
Ultimately I am sure businesses will ask themselves ‘how do we work the best?’
I expect very few will come out of this without identifying some future change – most likely around productivity and efficiency – and that has to be one positive from these strange times.
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