Corporate Buildings in a city landscape

The “new” normal

Or will we ever go into an office again after COVID-19?

Aside from those Hero’s who are working day in, day out in hospitals, schools, care homes, as carers, transportation, refuse collection and any of our other “Key workers”, most of us who can, are now working from home – and please don’t for one minute think I’ve forgotten those of you who have sadly been made redundant, furloughed, or simply lost your jobs through this exceptional time, because I haven’t, I simply wish to examine the situation which remains once this has ended. I am not ignoring you. I truly hope that some kind of good can come out of this for you, somewhere – Fingers crossed!

For the remaining individuals with jobs which enable them to set up in their “office” at home, at their dining table (which is where I spend my working day), on their sofa, their bed or where-ever they find space to work from day-to-day, these are questions you will no doubt have asked yourself at some point over the last 4 weeks.

Will I EVER go back to my office & my colleagues? Will my company survive this situation intact? What will my job look like when it’s all over? What will my industry look like? Will I even HAVE an office to go back to when its all over?

There are definitely others…

I’ve certainly asked myself these. I work for a part of the government (essentially) so my organisation “surviving” is not an issue, but the COVID-19 lockdown over the past 4 weeks and my families self-isolation period just prior to that HAS left another nagging thought.

The idea that companies need offices. Do we actually need physical offices anymore? Before the COVID-19 emergency, my own organisation had commenced building work internally in order to allow for a massive influx of additional staff, with ongoing negotiations on the floor above because there still wasn’t enough space!

We’ve been working hard to encourage agile working within our teams – a way of maximising the availability of desk-space within the office, a gradual increase in the number & frequency of our colleagues who work from elsewhere (normally home but who are we to dictate!) These arrangements have been in play for 6 months or more so the COVID-19 lockdown has quite literally accelerated this by 10-fold!

Sitting at my dining table (whilst not particularly comfortable for any prolonged period of time I know!) has given me pause for thought.

  • I’ve proven the point I made to, not just my own line-manager, but also to almost everyone I spoke to at my organisation when I arranged to formally WFH 2 days a week early in my time there – and that was, MY JOB CAN BE DONE COMPLETELY FROM ANYWHERE!
  • I’ve not spoken to anyone within or outside of my organisation who has struggled to complete anything in their workload whilst WFH (beyond initial teething troubles)
  • The flexibility to organise one’s own day around one’s workload is immensely satisfying – we’ve even reached the point that no-one questions your ability to complete your day’s tasks anymore.
  • These great big “shiny” corporate headquarters buildings are mere trophies, expensive to build, run and maintain – bad for the environment and the users to function in, and regularly do not service their actual requirements adequately.
  • All the time, money & environmental impact of commuting to workplaces across the world is totally unnecessary.
  • People should go to their office infrequently and only when unavoidable – or when it suits THEM to do so. Maintaining human contact is essential for our mental health as well as just being good for business! You (as an employer) should NOT force your employees to go to a place where they feel watched over JUST so you can get “bums on seats” and treat them like school children.
  • Trust someone to do their job and you will be rewarded by loyalty. Employees prefer to work for organisations where they feel supported and cared for.

In our post-COVID19 world, there will be no longer be any need to have the monolithic corporate structures towering throughout our major cities anymore – these are representative only of corporate vanity.

We don’t need to work in these buildings, we can work ANYWHERE!!!!

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