The future of the office is the topic of the time and a spectrum of opinion exists. Some wish to return to the way things were pre-covid, while others claim the office is dead. Several established brands have communicated to their staff that they can continue working from home beyond the pandemic, but does that signal the end of the office? Absolutely not. However, it is unlikely things will return to the way they were.

Why the office is not dead

1. Community and Corporate Culture

Jobs can be boiled down into a list of tasks laced with decisions made on a daily basis; the outcome of tasks accumulate and manifest into business contribution. But organisations are not simply the sum of all tasks conducted in their name; organisations are comprised of people and their relationships with one another. It’s these relationships which form an organisations corporate identity, or culture. Relationships thrive on ongoing and unexpected interactions. Research also shows that relationships thrive on physical proximity. Therefore, to foster a supportive and collaborative community feel and strong sense of corporate culture, a physical place to work together, is key, so that relationships are able to thrive. As Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

2. Talent Acquisition and Retention

According to research conducted by MRI Network, 90% of recruiters believe the current job market is candidate driven. Those who are good at what they do are in demand, meaning they have choices. The environment you provide staff, directly impacts the impression they have of your business; therefore, your workplace has an impact on talent attraction and retention. Top talent will consider how engaging the workplace feels, whether or not it’s a productive environment and if they can see themselves fitting in. In fact, 69% of people said they’d be willing to give up other benefits to work in a well-designed space (CBRE). Nothing communicates your culture more than your office space.

3. Collaboration Technology has allowed us to communicate, wherever our team members are. However, working together in a common space where the core focus is the business, helps staff get inspired by one another and boosts both innovation and morale. According to research by Gensler (referenced by JLL) having an office space that prioritises exceptional experiences results in staff feeling greater purpose, satisfaction and builds better relationships between colleagues. Through face to face collaboration, staff are more engaged and consequently drive greater productivity.

4. Health and Wellbeing

Forbes recently reported that managers have found it difficult to check in with the wellbeing of their workers when isolated from them, away from an office and no number of video calls or emails sent replaces a face to face communication. Therefore, concerns for employee wellbeing are on a sharp rise. To address this, it’s been proven that a well-though-out office space can improve the productivity, engagement and mental health of staff (Business Matters magazine). Having an office enables an organisation to provide creative working solutions for staff (standing desks or break out spaces) which in turn gives employees the freedom to decide how they want to work contributing to a general sense of wellbeing.

If it isn’t dead, what’s next for the office?

We’ve now established the office is much more than an overhead, that’s how we know the office is not dead. It can contribute to revenue by driving greater purpose and productivity among staff; however, with not all offices being equal there is likely to be a change to the office landscape as we look forward. Market forecasts project continued investment in flexible spaces within office real estate. Mostly due to companies realising that offices shouldn’t simply be thought of as places of work. Offices are now being thought of as places where people go to collaborate, be inspired from feeling part of a common purpose and to build relationships with similarly ambitious individuals.

Part of the ‘Building a Compelling Space Proposition’ seriesYou can find the first post of this series here.

Author: Sam Compton, Senior Marketing Manager, essensys