Drew Barker, Marketing Officer at Lee & Plumpton discusses the role of the office in our future working life.
The Government is actively encouraging people to return to the workplace yet March’s imposition of ‘lockdown’ has resulted in an open debate about the future and, indeed, the need for the office. There are clearly distinct benefits to be gained from ‘working from home’ – no commuting and, therefore, the resulting reduction in environmental impact, increased family time and, potentially, greater personal concentration time. Why do so many people still promote the imperative need for the office with the significant associated costs?
Back in the 1990s, many large ‘corporates’ started to encourage staff to work from home. Aside from the health and safety implications of homeworking, companies soon realised that office life offered many welfare and productivity benefits. People still need to come together for work – for business and personal reasons.
From a business perspective, the office provides a collaborative environment for people to exchange ideas, instructions and information. Body language and expressions are dynamic, ‘real time’ forces in ‘one to one’ and group discussions. Whilst video conferencing has developed dramatically over recent times, it has limitations.
Discussions with team members can be achieved through remote working but are generally pre-planned and structured. The casual conversation with someone from a different department or member of senior management is unlikely to happen with the majority of staff working from home.
Policies and procedures are more likely to be overlooked without the discipline of office life. It is also probable that it may take some time to identify and subsequently rectify any breakdown in agreed protocols.
From a staff retention and welfare perspective, the office workplace is a valuable asset. The physical environment provides a forum for employees to come together and feel part of a community and a united team. Generally, people want the variety and diverse interactions experienced in the office.
Maslov’s theory of ‘hierarchy of needs’ highlights the social benefits of the workplace. At the basic level, people go to work to earn money. Once this is fulfilled, additional psychological factors influence an individual’s well-being, happiness and productivity. People need to socialise, belong and feel valued – which cannot be readily fulfilled through working from home.
The pandemic forced us to ‘stay at home’ but, in the longer term, the office workplace will remain. The Covid-19 experience will, almost certainly, increase the amount of home working in the future but many people welcome the return to the office too. It is not simply ‘either-or’ – the office will not disappear.
The return to the workplace has also highlighted the imperative need for well designed, multi functional interiors and furniture focused on welfare and productivity. Now, more than ever, employers must recognise the contribution the office makes to the commercial prosperity.
With over 45 years’ manufacturing experience, Lee & Plumpton is focused upon providing ‘best value’ solutions for the office workplace. The objective is to offer a comprehensive portfolio, at different price points, to facilitate the creation of dynamic, inspirational environments as well as practical homeworking options.
Contact Lee and Plumpton through the BCFA Product Finder.
The BCFA Product Finder is a unique search engine created especially for interior designers to source contract furnishing companies. Utilising this platform will support your findings for upcoming projects, with over 200 members profiles showcasing the latest product launches, new materials available, industry news and design trends.