President, British Council for Offices & Partner, Gleeds
Much has changed in the last twelve months, particularly for those of us in the office industry. But is this really the end of the office?
We have heard increasing cries about the end of the office and whispers of a new way of working that’s better for all. It seems to me that any analysis that does away with the office entirely is surface deep. While there are many benefits to working from home, it is not without its challenges or faults.
Loss of connections
In the last year we, as a workforce, have lost countless opportunities to connect with our peers, our clients and our colleagues. As mentors, we have lost precious moments to support growth and development. As individuals, it may feel we have lost our friends. These physical moments where we come together to connect are invaluable – they carry countless benefits for our mental health, but they benefit our businesses, too.
Company culture is often described as the character of an organisation. It is an intangible element of your business that is made up of your values, traditions and beliefs. Yet it demands a physical guardian to ensure it is nurtured and protected. It demands an office.
These physical moments where we come together to connect are invaluable – they carry countless benefits for our mental health, but they benefit our businesses, too.
Workplace design and culture
Different work cultures demand different things from their employees. Naturally, then, it is not surprising different company cultures carry different design needs. Businesses with traditional or hierarchical cultures will upweight the value of individual space, space that encourages individuals to focus on tasks and procedure; spaces that minimise distraction.
Contrarily “clan cultures” will demand a space that reflect its focus on flexibility and teamwork. For these cultures, the office design is likely to include brighter colours and more collaborative, open spaces throughout.
And then there are those businesses, which is where most sit in today’s world, that fall somewhere in the middle: they require an office that can do both.
Of course, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model, nor should there be. But there should be an office: a physical space that feels uniquely ‘you’ – where your employees come together and feel a part of something.