There’s been much debate in the UK about the pros and cons of returning to the office versus working from home after weeks of mixed messages from the Government.
Reports of both the death and survival of the office have, though, been greatly exaggerated. Both offer distinct advantages for both employer and employee and it’s likely that in the short to medium term, we’ll see some kind of halfway house emerge depending on individual needs.
Ultimately, the yardstick will be whether people can maintain productivity from home. If so, why would businesses not size their real estate requirements accordingly or even give up on offices altogether? Then, there is also the issue that companies could be based just about anywhere and, depending on their role, so might employees.
On the other hand, despite the commute and (often boring) meetings, offices do offer many people something extra. They’re more than just a place to do business: they’re meeting points for socialising and bouncing ideas off one another. As much as we love our family, we need to spend some time apart as well.
For many, working from home has been great, but at the same time, there is a real sense of artificiality to life about it. It’s a bit like what school summer holidays felt like: a welcome break from the norm, but deep down we knew that, eventually, we had to return to school in order to progress with our life. Yes, the office can be a stressful place, but the idea of the years ahead consisting of no contact with colleagues, other than via a screen, fills many with dread.
Is this, then, the beginning of the end for the world’s greatest work-from-home experiment? Perhaps. But as in most cases, one size doesn’t fit all. It all depends on our different needs and various kinds of work.
Let’s hope that, in future, the workplace will allow much more flexibility that meets the needs of both employer and employee. It’s long past time to start thinking out-of-the-box.
Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online as eBook (€0.99;£0.99), iBook, paperback & audiobook.All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity