The pandemic stay-at-home orders that emptied office buildings have many employers questioning their future square-footage needs. As businesses struggle through 2020, the lost benefits of having employees gathered in a single environment are becoming clearer, especially in terms of productivity.
Employee homes and apartments were never designed as work spaces. All of life’s distractions are within a 20-step distance in the typical residence. That COVID-19 weight gain? It happened while employees were working from home and making frequent trips to the kitchen. While offices may also have their distractions, removing employees from the focus-draining conditions in their homes allows them to fall into “the zone,” where they do their best work.
All business leaders should carefully consider how to enhance their productivity zones as workers return to the office because—for many employees—the zone is not at their kitchen table.
The pandemic has thrust business owners into survival mode, forcing them to slash budgets and allow staff to work from home. Months into this crisis, the cost of having a dispersed workforce includes a diminished ability to collaborate.
Most businesses can’t succeed unless their employees work together effectively. Collaboration is built through workplace relationships, which tend to breakdown when workers are remote. The simple act of two or three employees sitting down for coffee or lunch strengthens workplace bonds and enhances collaboration.
For more than a century, companies relied on face-to-face collaboration to achieve business strategies. As questions arise about the future of the office, executives must look beyond real estate costs and carefully consider how their organizations’ ability to collaborate will be affected by remote working.
Working from home is not a replacement for the office. In fact, it’s becoming clear that businesses across many sectors need congregated employees to remain creative.
Great ideas might emerge during online meetings, but those flashes of inspiration might occur more often when a couple of employees bump into each other by the office coffee machine. Anyone who has ever sat in a room full of excited employees knows that the best brainstorming happens when people are together in a room, riffing on each other’s contributions.
Creativity is essential to innovation and new ways of doing businesses. Often, it is casual conversation amid cubicles or in the break room that lead to revolutionary ideas. A business owner must consider the risk to their company’s wellspring of creativity when weighing the value of office space.