Is now the time to return to the office?
Since the first case of coronavirus hit the UK, we have seen a huge change to our working lives – but is it now time to return to the office?
Since the first case of coronavirus hit the UK in early 2020, many of us have seen a huge shift in how we live our lives – both personally and professionally. Packing our desktops into cars and setting them up on our dining tables now feels like a lifetime ago, but working from home remains to be a reality many of us are still living.
Don’t get me wrong, from an extra hour in bed whilst avoiding the office commute to being able to peg the washing out on your lunch – many things make working from home enjoyable. But as the number of people receiving both coronavirus jabs rises, the question on everyone’s mind is whether now’s the time to return to the office and our working lives as we knew them before.
At FMC, we’re eagerly awaiting the day that all our employees are back under one roof, recreating the office culture we grew very fond of pre-covid. Here are some of the reasons we think it’s time to ditch full-time remote working.
Arguably the largest downfall of working from home is missing out on the socialisation created within the office environment. Not only is face to face interaction easier in terms of receiving instant feedback and collaborating with others, but it also helps form valuable relationships which benefit staff both in and outside of work.
The simplicity of lending a hand to the colleague doing the tea run is just one of the minor interactions that simply cannot be replaced with a virtual meeting – working alone all day, every day is inevitably going to lead to a more isolated workforce.
Another issue when it comes to remote working is communication and technical difficulties. Tapping a colleague on the shoulder for a chat is always going to be easier than scheduling a call – especially if you’re only wanting to ask a quick question. Not only can remote working isolate employees socially, but it may lead to them not wanting, or not being able to reach out for help.
And that’s not to mention the number of times technology doesn’t want to play ball! With issues such as bad internet connection and disconnected webcams, employees may find themselves on the phone to the IT department for more time than they spend in team meetings.
Not only may the lack of ability to create relationships lead to isolation issues, but it may also impact the development of employee’s careers. Research shows that remote staff may find it harder to climb the career ladder, with some believing they’re “out of sight, out of mind”. Without staff working collaboratively, it’s difficult for them to develop and demonstrate skills that may allow them to progress their careers.
From another perspective, a shift to permanent working from home could also impact the career development of young professionals – with some recent graduates yet to spend a day in the office. Combining this lack of face-to-face time with communication drawbacks, new starters may face a more challenging ‘settling-in period’ in their new roles due to the barriers to creating meaningful relationships with colleagues.
Whilst an undeniable benefit of working from home is gaining more ‘me’ time, some find themselves engulfed in a negative work/life balance due to the fine line between doing enough and doing too much. When not rushing to catch the train home or pick the kids up from school, it’s easy to fall into doing an extra half an hour here and there, which all add up and leave employees overworked.
On the other hand, working from the comfort of your own home leaves you open to plenty of distractions. Whether it’s your furry friend asking to play or answering the door to delivery people, it’s incredibly easy for your time to get eaten away by small interruptions. Losing track of time when days aren’t split up by meetings or nipping out to get lunch is also an issue, meaning more time is spent on projects than intended.
The question of whether working from home or working from the office is always going to spark a lot of debate – especially now that more of us than ever have experienced remote working during the pandemic.
In the next instalment of FMC Future of Work, we’ll be discussing the positives we’ve found during our time working remotely, and how we could factor these into our professional lives going forward.
The FMC Future of Work series aims to explore what the future holds for our professional lives. Over the next few months, we’ll be providing weekly updates where we’ll be discussing different aspects of how, where and when we work.
We’ll also be undertaking some research into what the future of work may look like for us all, and will be sharing our findings with you. There’ll be an opportunity for you to take part in a survey on what you think the future of work will look like, so keep an eye out on the FMC Blog for more information in the coming weeks.