Do we have to return to our offices to work efficiently?

Posted 1st September 2020

Old habits die-hard but do we really have to return to our old regimes of the daily commute and the grinding predictability of life in our city or town centre offices as we emerge from the pandemic?

BBC research with the top 50 UK companies states that 24 of these organisations ‘had no firm plans to return.’ Crikey! What will this mean for landlords of large city centre offices as droves of people decide to work from home either full or part time?

Covid-19 has made us think differently how we work and many realise they can be as productive, if not more effective, working from their own homes. The key to success of home working is being able to find a quiet space and to discipline oneself to work for set periods. The danger of sitting at the computer until 11 pm at night in shorts and a T-shirt is always lurking. For homeworkers with families the difficulty increases as demands and noise from children can be very distracting, and the temptation to nip out to do some shopping, go to the gym or simply take the dog for a walk is a present danger.

The need for comfortable, quiet space that is accessible and warm in all weathers is ramping up demand for home offices. There may be some tax advantages for employers to provide home office space and equipment for their employees as part of their remuneration package. Perhaps soft loans to purchase suitable accommodation like a pod/home office or property extension will become the norm? Employers are going to save considerable costs on rents and council tax as well as reduced office utility bills; meanwhile, homeworkers will benefit from substantial savings on commuting and hopefully enjoy a boost to their wellbeing.

Home or flexible working has been on the increase during the last decade and is already estimated at 15% of the working population, that is now set to expand rapidly because of Covid-19. Whatever the outcome, working life is going to change for many of us; there will always be a social and business need to meet colleagues and clients face-to face and to ensure ‘cabin fever’ does not set in.  A zoom conference is no substitute for the interaction and stimulus that human contact brings, it is just that there may be less of it in the years to come.

Douglas Adamson is Executive Chairman of Anthropods & Co Ltd 

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