Our working day post COVID-19: Is the office as we know it done for?

The situation the world finds itself has necessitated an acceleration of digital upskilling in real estate sector, along with workforces in many other industries. We are learning as a sector that there are many tasks we can complete remotely, and a lot that can be done just as easily over zoom or on the phone. It begs the question will we ever return to our offices? If not, would we be missing anything? Well, it seems we’d be missing out on rather a lot.


There are obvious business challenges that would arise if we were to abandon offices altogether. First off, while technology can make it easy to connect with colleagues remotely, there is great utility in working and brainstorming together physically in a space. Proximity to those you are working with allows you to discuss issues easily and efficiently, and to raise questions or make points that may not be deemed worthy of a call or an email but would doubtless help you do your job. We also cannot discount the value to the business of ideas inspired by off-hand remarks, strategic discussion and the natural alchemy of down-time with your teammates.


Secondly, preparing for and delivering pitches or presentations team would be far more difficult when done remotely as you would be unable to read the faces and movements of your fellow presenters and would be less able to think on your feet and respond to positive or negative feedback from your audience. Similarly, for most, the office is typically better resourced for your working needs with space, and additional tech close at hand. One needs to only glance at Twitter briefly to find those working from home lamenting the loss of their second screen or pondering the demise of the home printer.


However, the greatest impact would be felt from the loss of the softer, social side of the office. At this time of lockdown companies across the UK are doing what they can to recreate the recreational elements of work that are often the highlight of our working weeks. The modern workplace is no longer the faceless corporate, with workers isolated in rows and rows of cubicles. They are collegiate and community spaces, often open plan, where you tend look forward to spending time in the pub on Friday or at team drinks letting off steam and reflecting on the week with colleagues-cum-friends.


For others, the ritual of going to and from work would also be a sad loss as it was an enjoyable aspect of their daily routine. Andrew Day, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Travtus, misses “the commute, which included a ritual of getting a coffee and walking along the river and across Tower Bridge to the office. I also miss the food market behind our office that we were all looking forward to going to over the spring and summer.”


Whether it is a coffee break chatting with friends, or a daily walk through the cities and places we love, there are plenty of elements that make up our working days which simply cannot be replicated by technology. COVID-19 will go, but the office will stay.

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