Even some leading
agents are talking about how productive it is working from home, ignoring the
fact that they have furloughed swathes of staff, are probably considering
redundancies and have seen a dramatic collapse in deals, as well as suffering
recent Zoom discussion, an architect said staff were relishing working from
home and may not return to the office – ignoring the fact that his practice
almost wholly depends upon designing offices.
everyone is working from home, they are also not paying bus, train, tube or
taxi fares, buying petrol, coffee, lunch, after-work drinks or indulging in
economic devastation of lockdown is clear, with April GDP down 20%; the
Governor of the Bank of England spoke of “the biggest hit to the economy for
300 years“ and “unemployment up to 9%”. If we are confined to home, economic
activity dries up and the rich experiences and quality of life disappear, along
with tax revenue for public services such as the NHS.
seeing some business leaders such as Barclays chief executive Jes Staley
questioning the need for large offices, as they believe that working from home
is proving effective. But I fear the damaging impact on the young, who will pay
for this in years to come. Mentoring and learning from colleagues, as well as
acquiring interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, can be achieved
better in the office and much less so from Zoom calls.
deprive the young of so much, from a work and social perspective, if they are
encouraged to work from home. This could exacerbate a systemic problem; we
already hound our children to spend less time online and go outside, socialise
and be active.
lack of space and privacy working from home, IT quality is poor and it seems
the mental health impact of working in isolation is being ignored.
office, on the other hand, stimulates interaction and ‘buzz’; it creates
greater productivity and accountability; generates creativity and motivation;
and it allows for a better working environment and IT.
estimate that working from home, corporate Britain is operating at less than
70% effectiveness. Companies are getting by, but not growing or in many cases
winning new business, and are shedding staff.
that ‘getting by’ is also a legacy of the goodwill generated through years of
face-to-face contact and efficient office-based work – a legacy that is rapidly
withering as people lose touch with each other and are prevented from meeting
not to say the office should not change: there will be more space per
person; enhanced air volumes; less hot desking; a preference for new, grade-A,
amenity-rich offices; and a bigger focus on health, wellbeing and
sustainability. There will also be a desire for more flexibility, with smaller
companies reluctant to commit to long leases, coupled with a greater focus on
Helical, we are committed to taking on and winning all the challenges posed by
Covid-19. But let’s not write off the office yet, just because it is
fashionable to say it’s good to be working from home.
Kaye is chief executive of Helical