Why We Still Need the Physical Workplace

In mid-March, we embarked on our work-from-home journeys with the expectation that it would only last a couple of weeks. Now here we are some six months later, still working remotely. But what does that work-from-home landscape look like? The reality is that it’s very different for all of us. From the intern with roommates and a lackluster WiFi connection to the suburban dad with a dedicated office space, everyone’s situation is unique. For companies to continue to have a successful and productive workforce, it’s key they recognize that all home offices are not the same, and the physical office space creates a common ground. While some employees find working from home to be more conducive to the demands of everyday life, our recent LinkedIn poll found that 100 percent of respondents said they would return to the office in some capacity when a safe vaccine becomes available. Here are a few reasons why a physical workplace is important for many companies and their workforce when we’re able and ready to return.

Face-to-Face Interactions = Idea Generation

When it comes to human interaction, video cannot compare to an in-person, face-to-face connection. The workplace is an incubator for idea generation, spurred by the spontaneous encounters we have with our co-workers. Gone (temporarily) are the days where a mid-afternoon brainstorm session occurs because you happened to walk by your colleague’s desk, saw the project up on their screen and started to banter over possible solutions. Potential game-changing ideas are being missed out on because we are not physically seeing each other and sharing work as easily. There is a real value to the face-to-face connection that virtual technology can’t truly replace.

Cross-Department Connections

Technology has made it easy for us to connect with our colleagues via the phone, video meetings and chat. But chances are, who you are meeting with on a daily basis doesn’t stray far from your immediate team members. The chance to connect with departments you don’t normally work directly with has dwindled because we have lost the ability for that face-to-face connection that the physical workplace provides. This departmental segregation is a negative result of working from home, and getting back in the office can help encourage cross collaboration between departments.

Socialization to Feed the Soul

Workplace culture is king. There is no argument that people miss socializing with their co-workers. In our recent LinkedIn poll, 42 percent of respondents indicated they would like to return to the office solely for the cultural aspects. Lunches in the common café space, meeting up for happy hour drinks and participating in wellness activities as a group cannot be replaced online because the camaraderie is not the same. As we begin to normalize and hire new employees, consideration needs to be given to how their social interactions might be hindered by a work-from-home experience. Participating in office activities is one of the biggest ways new employees get involved in any company and get to know their co-workers. The office space provides that opportunity, and a return to the workplace can give office culture the resurgence it desperately needs.

An Even Playing Field

As we have now spent half a year in our new work-from-home setups, most of us have settled and created designated workspaces. But are they optimal? The work-from-home landscape looks different for everyone, depending on where they live, what type of home they have and what age they are. While some people prefer the new work-from-home setup and the flexibility it provides, it’s great to have an office that creates a stable center of command. The office can serve as an equalizer that provides employees with an environment that is conducive to productivity, if they determine that's where they function best.

How Cresa Can Help

The future of the office will still live on. While it may look a little different, it’s certainly not dead. Moving forward, the key for employers is flexibility. This means employers providing their team members with the chance to work where it best suits them, and setting them up for success wherever that may be. With the help of Cresa’s advisors and multi-disciplinary resources, we can help you find the best solution for your company and support you in your re-entry efforts.