Despite the headlines, the office is not dead, says Ian Baker.
The headlines say it all: ‘The office is dead’; ‘The office is not dead’; ‘Working from home is the future’; ‘Working from home is bad for mental health’. Finding a headline that resonates with your personal point of view is easy.
Over the past few months everyone has formed a new opinion on their workplace. These opinions, based on our experience and those of family and friends, pull us towards one headline or another, with our unconscious biases providing additional mass.
As we have been plunged into a world of unexpected change, the headlines have become polarising. Strong opinions on how workplaces should be organised in the future are rising. Some coming from unlikely quarters, others from more obvious ones. For example, an article which stated “Open-plan is dead and the future office will need more partitions” was obviously written by a partition company.
Although there is nothing wrong with marketing, when these articles make a statement of fact it’s important to know the perspective from which they’re being written, and when the daily bombardment of headlines starts to shape our views we need to ask some serious questions.
“The office is dead’; ‘The office is not dead”
I believe in evidence-based change and the acknowledgement of other people’s perspectives. Like many of you, I’ve also read about epic decisions being made on corporate workplaces and I wonder whether we have a deep enough understanding of this situation yet.
Regarding ‘the office’, choice and flexibility have always been key to a great workplace experience and likely to remain so. And although working from home is good for some, it should not be a long-term solution for all. Perhaps working near home could provide us with the best of both worlds?
We must grasp this opportunity to look at how we structure the world of work, but we should do so diligently and with patience and not allow headlines to shape the future for us.
Ian Baker is head of workplace at EMCOR Group