Updated: Oct 18, 2021
How many of you are still working at an office? By office, I mean a physical space where 80% if not 100% of the time, you would walk straight to where your desk is when you first get to the “office”. I used to until about Feb 2020. Since then my "office" is also my home.
Frangie had an amazing birthday at work. She had all the cake for herself and received heaps of Facebook birthday greetings from colleagues all wishing for a great day.
My recent time away from my office triggered a question! Why SHOULD I work from the office? Having a physical office where I get to interact with my colleagues face to face has always been one of the key attractions for me to want to be part of an organisation rather than become a solo consultant or freelancer. I enjoy the fact that I can just pop my head over and say “happy birthday” or ask “how was your weekend” or “can we move our meeting 10 minutes later” instead of numerous email exchanges every time I need to change something at the last minute. Unfortunately, those spontaneous, flexible and friendly interactions are getting less and less in the office and more and more replaced by tons of emails. Often key emails that need responses rarely get replied to or acknowledged. Instead, email threads dealing with the mundane or irrelevant are very common. “sorry get well soon” is a frequent one I see copied to everyone in the office. It often gives me an uncomfortable feeling to approach people in person and ask whether my email is received or not. But you know what, if you don’t ask you will never know! Some people said use notification functions on the email system where senders get notified when the receivers open or read your email. But receivers have a choice not to notify you! So there you go!
Many companies and organisations pay a lot to keep an office and I wonder if it is worth it! Before COVID-19, some people even asked to work from home in order to stay “focus” even though all day they interacted with only their screens? If going to the office is to just go to your desk and do everything via your computer and email, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity to achieve a real connection. When you talk in person, it is the real connection that leads to more collaboration, creativity and productivity!
...wow, you have an office!
It will not be too long, I believe, before we will notice in future conversations statements like “wow you have an office!”. Many people already work from home and hesitate to go back to the office - definitely not full time. Many are looking forward to going back to the office. Why office? Because it promises a space where you can interact with other people and where you can have a conversation to stimulate and challenge your ideas and thinking and most of all to have the sense of belonging and a network of support! Having an office is this luxury that is likely taken for granted until we no longer have it! Shall we start valuing what we have before it is too late? What will we do differently when we are able to have an office again? For me, I will start that by saying hi to people sitting at the different side of the office as the first thing I do instead of walking straight to my desk and greet only people I cannot avoid! How about you :)?