Working From Home during the pandemic – Is this an opportunity to redefine how we work?

So, if like me, you are an office worker, it is likely that you have now been WFH for about 3 months.

I think, it’s really important we understand, and respond proportionately to all feedback on this unexpected change to our working practices, so we have been speaking to clients and researching survey results to ensure we pick up all of the data we can.

Clearly our personal experiences will depend on a variety of factors, but the big question is, should we be reconsidering where and how we work for the long term?

Travelling into the office every day was a necessity before we had mobile technology to support a more agile workforce, it has not been, for some time, the best solution for a modern workforce.  Indeed, it has probably been hampering productivity, contributing to the increase in greenhouse gases and causing polarisation of our countries, contributing to unbalanced urbanisation. It seems we have the opportunity to challenge the status quo and end up with a happier more motivated workforce as well as a cleaner, healthier planet.

Credit: CBS News

We just need the will and the courage to move forward.

So, back to the root of the solution, which I truly believe is accepting that the office only needs to be part of a ‘menu’ for where you work.  As designers we have, for years, been designing alternative work settings to support relevant tasks.

If I were to look at my own working week, loosely, I spend around 40% of my week on concentrated ‘quiet space’ tasks, around 40% in formal meetings and around 20% collaborating in open space.  I now know I am significantly less productive at concentrating in the office, can successfully have many of my meetings virtually but that I miss ‘real’ interaction and collaboration with my colleagues and clients.

So, what could this mean for me?

I am really lucky in that I have a separate room I can use as an office at home, I think I just need to be more structured with my diary and make sure I am in the office at the point in a project where I need to collaborate more.  I am sure I can co-ordinate my diary with the people I need to catch up with.

I will probably have set days to WFH and set days to work in the office.

If most people are reacting like me, and I think they are, at least to some degree, we are likely to have a shift in the amount of desks we need in the office and to make sure we are all working safely at home or in alternative, more local co-working spaces.

Assuming we want to be agile workers, and we obviously need to work productively, what do we need when WFH?

Honestly, we just need a laptop, a worksurface at the right height and a height adjustable chair with lumbar support and height adjustable arms.  If we really want to be most productive, we also need a monitor or 2… a monitor arm, a docking station, possibly a laptop stand and maybe a small printer.  If you have all this gear you are likely to need a bit of space to put it in, and if like me you are a bit fussy, you will want it to match your interior!

An example of some home products from Allemuir

For those of us that can’t or don’t want to work from home the office can be available as it always has been, and we should all hope that more ‘We Works’ style co-working spaces pop up on our high streets to reinvigorate where we live.

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