The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how businesses operate in the short-term with most professionals potentially working from home in the long-term. Here, tech entrepreneur Dave Antrobus explores the top 5 reasons why returning to an office after COVID-19 is important. As the Technical Director of the capital investment organisation Fresh Thinking Group and digital collective Inc & Co, Dave Antrobus offers first-hand experience in the benefits of having an office space.
Working remotely means you are unable to gain the nuances of office collaboration, from overhearing conversations that may improve your company or client knowledge to missing key information said in passing. Up to 93% of our communication is nonverbal, so body language plays an important role in the workplace as it can enhance relationships, motivate others, and ultimately, improve productivity. Body language is often subtle, so the absence of face-to-face contact can make it even harder to read situations. This lack of opportunity to observe is particularly detrimental to the growth or junior employees and new starters.
From brainstorming ideas in meetings to bonding over coffee breaks, our office relationships can have a positive impact on everything from job satisfaction to learning and using our skills. Even if you work solo, an office space creates opportunities to expand your network as you meet people from other businesses. It’s almost impossible to create company culture when everyone is virtual – Zoom can’t replace human contact.
2) Work/life Balance
Once a perk sought by employees, does working from home really give us the work-life balance we all need? When working from home, it is easy to blur the lines between work & home, potentially meaning longer working hours and an impact on focussed productivity. An office allows us to physically differentiate between home and work life, and, pre-Coronavirus, we could use our commute to get in the zone before work or decompress after it. From feelings of loneliness to relationship strains and childcare juggles, it seems that, ironically, working from home hasn’t quite offered us the work-life we’d always assumed it would.
3) The Economy
The high street may struggle to recover from the impact of the second lockdown. Workers aren’t going to their favourite coffee shop on their commute, we can’t go to the pub or get our hair cut so pubs, restaurants and hairdressers all need customers to keep trading– remote working might mean local independents flounder. If people are no longer occupying offices, they aren’t occupying the surrounding amenities, which will be forced to close. A loss of jobs in turn means a loss of disposable income, further damaging the economy.
A pile of washing up or the lure of the fridge can prove far more distracting and time-consuming than a talkative colleague. There is so much value in having lunch with your colleagues – without realising it you come up with a solution to a problem within the business or learn something new about a process. Steve Jobs famously opposed remote working, saying, “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
5) Mental Health
Mental and physical health is essential to wellbeing and working from home can have negative effects on both. Physically, it’s easy to miss the spin class you would normally go to on your way home and sitting at a desk all day and doing under 2,000 steps a day is becoming the norm. With another lockdown, Dave Antrobus believes that poor posture and bad diets are becoming ingrained. From a mental health perspective, burnout and isolation are causes for concern. Remote employees often feel compelled to work longer hours than if they were in the office, with the pressure to appear “busy” causing increased anxiety. The solitude of working remotely can hugely affect mental health.
The charity Mind offer some great resources for returning to work after the pandemic.
About Dave Antrobus
As the Technical Director of both Inc & Co and Fresh Thinking Group, Dave Antrobus is an accomplished web developer and project manager who guides a variety of teams as they develop and hone bespoke technological systems. Dave specialises in e-commerce and software development, carefully crafting award-winning systems that have defined success for numerous digital and tech-driven firms.
About Inc & Co
Inc & Co is a digital collective that offers tailored business guidance to firms in need of directional strategy and branding support so that they can remain competitive in their marketplaces. Inc & Co nurtures a collaborative ethos, enabling countless firms to share resources and expertise to generate the highest-level outputs and harness a vast range of skills. Acquisitions include the award-winning marketing agency Brass, sports enterprise agency Skylab, and global analytics firm Insight Analysis, amongst many others.
Inc & Co’s sister company, Inc & Co Property, leases incspaces office accommodation to professionals and corporate teams in need of flexible team-working spaces in Manchester, London, and Leeds. As Inc & Co Property continues to expand, freelancers and business teams will soon have access to offices across the UK.
The group has generated an impressive £10 million in its first year, an 11% month-on-month increase. Looking forward, Inc & Co is welcoming enterprises specialising in marketing, PR, design, software, and Saas, to the collaborative collective.
Learn more about Inc & Co at https://incandco.com.