The current pandemic has meant that there have been massive changes in the way we work. The biggest change is the increasing trend in working from home. Safety concerns and government regulations have meant that now more than ever, employees are being told to work from home. This new working style has brought some welcome benefits, or ‘home comforts’. Casual clothing, even pyjamas, can be worn every day and during breaks, employees can just veg out on the sofa. Employees are afforded the opportunity to work in an environment that suits just them. It has suddenly given workers flexibility and freedom that has not been afforded before in the same way.
Whilst it might be nice to get a bit of respite from the office, a study by The Khaleej Times found that UAE residents are struggling with some aspects of these measures, such as feelings of being disconnected, lack of opportunities to learn from colleagues and in some cases, an increase in workload. There is also the problem that for many people right now, working from home measures means that there is no distinction from work-home life and therefore turns the home into work. There is no escaping it. That is why, keeping in mind the benefits of working from home, it might be time for managers and business owners to make some much-needed changes to the working environment.
When offices do finally decide to open again fully, it is important that managers and business owners take into account everything that has happened in this year and to learn from both the enjoyment and grievances that employees have in regards to working from home. That is why, after bringing the office into our homes, it might be time to consider doing it the other way around. Whilst no-one is saying that employees should suddenly start coming to work in their pyjamas and lounge around in the office all day, the experiences of working from home have certainly started conversations and new ways of thinking about how we see office spaces.
We spend so much of our time in the office, that it is perhaps time we start making it a place that we genuinely enjoy going to, a sentiment echoed by Betterhomes Managing Director, Richard Waind, who claims “the office of the future needs to be more than just a place to work. It will need to entice workers back with some of the comforts of home and create spaces that are truly collaborative”. If the problems that people are having with working from home are anything to go by, people are longing for more collaborative environments. The days of individual, isolating office cubicles are over. With falling office prices, now is absolutely the time to invest in offices that have shared spaces that really encourage collaborative working. Companies can even afford bigger offices that have bigger break rooms, and entertaining spaces, in order to transform them into comforting and relaxing spaces.
At the end of the day, the office is supposed to be for the employees. Find out what they want. Allow them to bring their home into the office, encourage photos, and plants. Invest in some comfy chairs for the break room. Ask them about how the office can be a more lively, and enjoyable place, which in turn will create a great company culture.