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Currently, 42 percent of the country’s workforce is working from home. That includes roughly 20 percent of people whose jobs have been directly affected by COVID-19.
With increases in remote work taking place country-wide, it’s easy to assume that the office has become (or will soon become) obsolete. That’s definitely not the case, though. The need for in-person connection hasn’t gone away.
Outlined below are some of the top reasons why the office still matters.
Workers need opportunities to socialize with each other while on the job.
When workers have a chance to enjoy some water cooler chat and talk about non-work-related matters, they’re able to builder stronger relationships. Strong relationships allow for more teamwork, increased productivity on team projects, and better results for the company.
If coworkers have a chance to socialize with one another, they will likely feel less stressed and happier at work, too. Happiness and stress reduction also boost productivity and improve employee performance.
It’s true that employees can socialize virtually when working from home using apps like Slack or video conferencing platforms like Zoom. This simply isn’t the same as popping by your coworker’s desk or having a quick chat in the breakroom, though.
When employees go into the office for work each day, this contributes to a stronger sense of community. It helps employees feel as though they belong to something bigger than themselves.
If everyone works from home, there’s less of a sense of belonging. Employees may feel detached from their company, as well as its culture and values.
What kind of results can stem from this detachment?
In an office with strong company culture, employees are well aware of the company’s values and mission. Those things influence every decision they make and the tasks they complete.
If employees are detached from the company, they may not factor in company values and the company’s mission as much as they should.
Innovation and creativity are essential to any successful business.
Employees can certainly be creative and innovative while working from home. However, it’s not always easy, especially when it comes to collaboration and group brainstorming.
As we’ve already discussed, a Zoom meeting simply can’t compete with colleagues gathering in the lounge or dropping by each other’s desks to share ideas.
When everyone’s working in the same office, it can be easier for employees to focus on their current projects and come up with ideas that will make them better. They don’t have to worry about audio issues, screens freezing, or kids running in unannounced, for example.
Often, when employees are working from home, most of the time, they’re working with limited equipment. They probably have a laptop or desktop computer, perhaps a webcam and headset, and not much else.
This can lessen the quality of their work. It can also increase their frustration when tackling new projects or trying to come up with new ideas.
Even if workers do have more advanced equipment, they might have other limitations that prevent them from putting their best foot forward. For instance, if they have spotty internet, that’s going to hinder their productivity, as well as the company’s overall performance (not to mention its bottom line).
How many people are working from their kitchen table or couch right now?
In a perfect world, every remote employee would have an office with a door that closes and locks and a high-quality desk and chair so they can get work done with maximum comfort. We don’t live in a perfect world, though.
Plenty of people don’t have any kind of dedicated workspace, nor do they have access to good office furniture. This, in turn, is affecting their productivity. It’s also contributing to some serious health issues, including headaches, neck pain, back pain, and more.
When they work in an office, employees generally have access to ergonomic furniture. They can work comfortably throughout the day without having to slump over a laptop for hours at a time.
It’s hard to experience a good work-life balance when you work in the same place where you do your living.
Right now, some people are struggling to separate work from their other responsibilities. This is especially true of those who don’t have room in their house or apartment for a dedicated workspace.
By going to the office each day, it may be easier for folks to create space between their work projects and home life. The drive (or bus or train ride) to and from can also give them some time to get prepped for the day and decompress when work is over.
Establishing and maintaining strong company culture isn’t always easy to do when all of your employees are working from home. This difficulty can make it harder for companies to attract and retain top talent.
Folks who are looking for jobs may have a hard time deciding whether or not a particular business’s culture and values align with their needs.
Those who do get hired might have a harder time experiencing the company culture firsthand as well. Remote onboarding is tricky, after all, and new hires might struggle to feel accepted as part of the team.
These challenges, in turn, could cause them to be less loyal to the company. As a result, they might be more inclined to jump ship as soon as another offer shows up.
Right now, most businesses are focused solely on surviving the pandemic. Growth and expansion aren’t at the forefront of most business owners’ minds.
Soon, though, the focus will be shifting back toward growth.
For companies to grow and thrive, innovation, creativity, and collaboration are necessary. As you now know, all of these things are harder to achieve when employees are all working remotely.
To set your business up for long-term growth and profitability, it’s important to make the office a great place to work. You can get far with everyone working from home. Most people agree, though, that the best results still come from bringing everyone together.
Clearly, the office still matters. Your business’s office environment and culture matter, too. Here are some tips that will help you to improve the work environment and set your employees up to experience the advantages listed above:
Support and flexibility are key to creating a productive and positive work environment. It’s okay if you can’t implement all of these steps at once.
Talk to your employee about what they want to see change first. Then, pick one or two aspects of the office to focus on improving for now. You can always make more changes later.
Your office environment matters now, and it will continue to matter in post-pandemic life.
If you’ve been thinking that there’s no longer a need for office work, remember the advantages of in-person collaboration and connection mentioned above. Give the tips for improving your office work environment a try, too.
If you need to upgrade your office furniture to better support your employees, we can help. Check out our collection today to find the best furniture for you and your team.