Everyone assumed back in the late 90’s/early 2000s that the arrival of the internet and this incredible network of networks could revolutionise the working environment and be the end of the office, but I am yet to see any firm evidence of an quick and monumental shift. 

The introduction of technology was slow and took time to develop whereas Covid-19 has forced a drastic and immediate change resulting in speculation about the future of the office once again. People are swift to jump on the on the bandwagon and predict that, with working from home, will come quick and perfect results, but it isn’t that simple, every element needs to be considered and assembled properly taking time and the right advice.

The working environment is not a place to be messed around with without any underlying purpose.

For me there is one key component within the modern workplace that is overlooked….the people. Unlike computers we don’t all chose to work in the same functional way with the same outputs. We have all taken part in a Myers-Briggs assessment (or something similar) which shows four fundamental dimensions of individual difference, to create 16 personality type profiles for humans and this is just the start. Think about it this way: the chance of two people being genetically identical is the same chance of getting heads 6.4 million straight tosses of a fair coin.

Businesses can’t just opt to work from home without considering their teams and nor can commercial real estate investors and landlords assume they know how to design the perfect office without further understanding of the end user. 

Businesses need to make intelligent decisions, the Covid-19 working from home experiment will give us invaluable insight into employee’s attitude during a work from home period. How do they communicate and collaborate? Do they have the necessary drive and determination to operate at an increased productivity from home? If they can, what can Landlord’s do to adapt working spaces to recreate this?

Do people like to spend time in the world of people and things or in the parallel world of ideas and images?

This is just the high level start of introversion versus extroversion and how people can direct their energy, there is no doubt you need both in a business but maybe not physically in the office together.

The extroverts I predict will be chomping at the bit to get back into the office as these people thrive on the interaction with others and this in itself is infectious and energises people around them. You cannot recreate the same working environment at home or over a video call. However, the drive of these individuals possess to get a task in hand done immediately may be scuppered by the inability to talk out loud about an issue and resolve it in order to continue, so has their productivity really increased at home?

People admit that their work rate from home isn’t the same and they have to get out and work from a coffee shop to get the buzzy feeling that can be apparent in an office.

Introverts on the other hand will be enjoying the peace and quiet to think about the challenge their work is posing them and have a clear idea when they decide to act. I often feel that when placed in meeting rooms face to face these people will go into their shell and do not impart their knowledge or opinions (which they have been thinking about and considering deeply). Park these people behind a video screen in the comfort of their own home and you realise they have a voice and start to add real value leaving the extrovert to recoil from existence. 

Both of these character types will have differing levels of work rate and will thrive in different working environments. 

No business will be built of individuals with identical talents and nor should it be.

For me everything leads to striking a balance and ensuring the most effective teamwork in a modern workspace. It is about creating the right office environment to get the best out of your teams. There is no, one size fits all and, just because Google are doing it, you can’t assume this is right for your business or team and Landlord’s shouldn’t be designing office buildings based on what has been done in the past. 

Take a step back, speak to the individuals and understand what makes them tick then use your new found intelligence to source and create the perfect home for businesses. Never settle, comfort is the enemy of progress.

When lockdown ends everyone will be rushing back to drive revenue to hopefully recover from a turbulent few months but let’s not lose sight of what we have learnt. Hopefully, it will lead many companies to develop a healthier relationship with flexible working and all of the digital technologies that support it. This will positively impact numerous people’s daily working practices and make office-style jobs more inclusive.

The top and bottom of it is that you can’t recreate the office environment’s espirit de corps but you can improve it by listening to the people.