Virtually overnight, professionals turned dining room tables into workstations, closets into conference rooms. We found creative ways to make space feel busy, from blow up dolls and mannequins to distancing beanies with foam floaties to 6 foot perimeter rolling bumper tables. In exchange, work from home taught us healthy habits and an improved sense of work-life balance that incorporated exercise and the outdoors into our daily schedule. Today, every business is battling for talent, so it will be the smart leaders that understand the need to bring a touch of home back to the office, incorporating new standards of comfort and hospitality.
What we do know is that color, light, and art create inspiring workstations to foster creativity and stimulate conversation; business must remain focused on mental health and overall wellbeing is mandatory; mentoring is back; staff expect accessibility to their leaders, with the added flexibility to understand the advantages and pitfalls of virtual employment. Today’s workspace can be a place where staff WANTS to be, where teams do their best work. How we manage these lessons learned and bring a touch of home into the office will be essential as we reacquaint ourselves with small talk and office politics. More than plants and pictures, we can maintain those newfound healthy habits like going outside for a breath of fresh air and having real food for lunch away from your desk.
Working from home was either an amazing blessing or a house-shaped prison filled with muddled work-life boundaries. Disruption control at home was manageable as many became more productive outside the company office. But once you go back, you will likely miss the mask-free existence of working from home; the escape from office politics; those unexpected, strange and often awkward virtual moments; those moments of humanity and vulnerability while inviting co-workers into your personal space. Lessons learned from an improved blending of work and life taught us it was okay to adjust our schedules while blending personal demands with job responsibility.
Inevitably, there will be both losses and gains when we return to the cubicle rather than the couch:
- We lose quality one on one time with our pets, but perhaps the office will implement a weekly ‘bring your pet to work’ day so we can maintain the stronger human / animal bond we developed.
- Virtual happy hours might happen less often, but we will collaborate face to face in ways that are harder to execute in one dimension.
- You’ll need to stop rolling your eyes in teleconferencing meetings, but you’ll appreciate true and genuine emotions from across the conference table.
- While we once again say hello to traffic, you gained an improved appreciating of juggling commute time lost during in office days with improved quality family and friends time on days working from anywhere.
- It might be uncomfortable once again embracing workplace drama, but casual gossip around the water cooler will be much appreciated.
- You’ll be in a dedicated and organized workspace like a professional, but now you have your dining room table back for family dinners, the couch for movie nights, and no more hide and seek from the kids.
The lack of quality workplace interaction made us realize how crucial office space is when it comes to quality collaboration. The office may feel like a sanctuary to some, a place of meditation or a temple of silence compared to home. Others might miss the cacophony of chaos in the home. It’s human nature to realize the importance of something once it’s taken away but the office never died. We’ve proven that we can work from anywhere as we have outgrown the traditional ways of working.