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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Sorry, But The Office Isn't Going Anywhere

If you thought that the coronavirus meant the end of the office for your business, you’re mistaken. We’ve seen a blip thanks to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that companies are going to shift away from this tried-and-tested formula forever. Eventually, the costs of leaving a centralized place of work behind will outweigh the benefits. And companies that return to the traditional format will see their competitive advantage skyrocket.

That hasn’t stopped commentators talking about the death of the office. We’ve seen an abundance of articles discussing how remote work is the new normal and that it’s a win-win for both employees and the firms that hire them. Companies save on rental expenses, we’re told, and employees get to avoid the loathed commute. Everyone seems to be benefiting.

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But that’s not how it is going to work out in the long-run. Yes - while the risk of serious disease is high, it makes sense for workers to stay home and do as much as they can from home offices. But once effective vaccines come online - which seems to be shortly - things are going to change for the better. All of a sudden, we’re going to see the old rules of interaction apply once more. And that means that the office will become a much more attractive prospect.

Offices Permit Cross-Fertilization Of Idea

Imagine you’re in a Zoom call with your coworkers, and your schedule “brainstorming time” to mimic the kind of to-and-fro of ideas you get in an office environment.

On the face of it, it seems like a great idea. You need to foster creativity in your organization. But when you actually get down to it, you soon realize that the concept is fraught with problems. People can’t just come up with ideas on command. They develop haphazardly and randomly. So conferences tend to be barren.

The same isn’t true when you have an office setup. People can randomly bounce ideas off each other as and when they pop up. It’s much more natural and leads to better outcomes in the long-run.

Offices Encourage Hard Work

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Why do you think there are so many office desks for sale that encourage oversight? The reason is that it encourages workers to work hard. Managers can see precisely what they’re doing at all hours of the day.

Now compare this to the home office setup. Here, workers can float around how they please. The incentive is merely to appear as though you’re working hard, without actually getting down to work itself. You can more easily hide behind the output of other people when your boss can’t see precisely what you’re doing.

Companies are going to realize this the hard way. Whatever money they save by not renting office space in city centers, they lose with productivity. In many cases, they’ll discover that it is a net loss and that there’s a reason why you always create a real workplace if you can. Most people can’t self-regulate while they are by themselves.

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