Revisiting What An Office Means
Thanks to tech and all these young companies that have revolutionized the traditional office space, we had already come a long way in seeing that the traditional, sterile, cubicle filled office space was not working.
With that said and after working from home for over 3 months now, my view on office spaces all together has changed.
The first thing I noticed while working from home is how my energy levels shift throughout the day. Also, on some days I can work for 10 hours and others, I’m really better off just working 4 because I’m tired, not in flow or just in a down/bad mood and my productivity is very low.
Of course with Clients to cater to and work piling up, sometimes you have to down that 3pm coffee and push through. But what if there’s a way to add just a little bit more flexibility into our lives? The type of flexibility we have all experienced and enjoyed while working from home and that makes us even more productive. And what does that mean for the future of office spaces?
A Place For Collaboration and Creativity
After speaking with a bunch of people the main thing I’m hearing is- “I miss the social and human interaction of the office”. I have also heard, “I like getting dressed up and going into a office every day and leaving my house”.
What if the new office space is more like a social club? People can come and go as they please. It becomes a space filled with lounges, a cafe and meeting rooms for people to come together in a variety of environments. And it has some individual work nooks for the people that prefer to work from an office.
In terms of design, this new “work social hub” looks more like a Soho house than a traditional office space. Great design that is inspiring and “homey”. A place where technology is seamless. And of course a place that is filled with natural light and plants to name a few things we need to be exposed to daily to lead a healthier life.
Employee data would be collected ahead of time to determine space size and amenities. Based on what I’ve heard, it’s possible that a lot of employees would choose to work from home and maybe dedicate a day to do all of their in person meetings and get that hit of socialization and human connection. So not every single employee would be in the space at once.
Is The Traditional Office Space Even Conducive To Productivity?
For those of you in more traditional sectors like law and finance, that typically have more traditional office settings, have you ever stopped to think about how these spaces make you feel now that you have had the chance to work from home?
As a space empath (someone that takes in the energy in spaces), when I think of a traditional office space I want to run. I conjure up images of unwelcoming reception desks, carpet, fluorescent lights, cubicles, enclosed offices with a sea of glass walls, grey, white or medical blue walls, a depressing break room, sterile air, minimal access to natural light- and the list goes on.
Spaces like these CRUSH my creativity and energy. I can’t tell if it’s just “me” or if this is what it does to everyone, but it seems like the status quo so no one even bothers to questions it.
Studies show that our spaces affect us and our health. And I think that NOW is the time to begin questioning the traditional office space.
In terms of design, a healthy, well designed office space can boost employee productivity by 12%. It results in less sick days for employees, a better sense of wellbeing and less talent turnover.
Beyond how it looks, what purpose does it serve? Is it used to keep everyone controlled and in check? Making everyone come to a designated space for a designated amount of time to work. And in doing so, is that actually stunting creativity and productivity?
Working From Home- A New Freedom
For me the freedom of working from home has been amazing. Without a commute I’m starting my day more energized and have time to work out in the morning without getting up at the ass crack of dawn. Working out before work boosts my energy and helps me think more clearly.
At lunch, I make my own meals which are healthier and less expensive than eating out every day. After lunch and throughout the afternoon I usually go for a quick 5 minute walk in the park that re-energizes me. The movement and access to nature helps me think better and come up with new ideas or solutions more easily than if I was sitting at a desk. And if I’m tired at 4pm, instead of reaching for a coffee, I go into my meditation nook (also in my home office space) and do my 20 minute evening meditation which gives me the extra boost I need.
Because of all of this, I’ve been having better ideas and been more productive. On some days when I’m not feeling great and I have no deliverables due for my team or clients, I finish early. And on other days when I’m feeling great, regardless of team and client deliverables, I go to 7, 8pm and it feels like 3pm.
With freedom comes responsibility. And I’m sure it’s hard for a lot of employers to trust that their employees are getting the work done and not slacking off while working from home. But the same employees that slack off at the office, will be the same ones that do it at home. The only difference is it can’t be observed in person.
The bottom line is- if as an employer you’re feeling this way about your employees then one, maybe you need to think about replacing the whomever is in question. And two, maybe there are some control issues around employees that need to be looked at. My point is, the main reason for having an office space shouldn’t be so employees can be watched more closely.
The Way Forward
Corporate culture has the tendency to create so much busy work. Meetings are scheduled to discuss things that could have been resolved with a 5 minute phone call. Or a meeting is scheduled that results in no clear action plan followed by another meeting about the same thing the next week. Busy work makes people feel validated. But it’s also a waste of time.
If we’re more grounded, in flow and clear on what needs to get done, perhaps there would be less busy work. And with less busy work there’s more time to focus on who needs to do what, who’s delivering and who isn’t. The few employees that might be slacking off and taking advantage of working from home could be more easily identified. And those of us that are enjoying the boost in productivity we get from working from home could continue to do so.
Ultimately, I see the future as a much more fluid and flexible mix of working from home and going into the office for meetings and to commune with co-workers. My hope is that companies create space for employees to decide what works best for them. And that they create office spaces that are inspiring and that boost productivity and wellbeing versus being used to regulate and control employees.
Have you enjoyed this time working from home? And do you want to go back to an office? Are you craving a different work environment now that you’ve had the chance to work from home? Comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Gala Magriñá Design works with Clients that understand the importance of creating a beautiful space and want to work with a no-nonsense design team that is able to clearly chart the best way forward. What separates our approach from other designers is our extensive knowledge of how people live and how best to create customized spaces that nurture that. We aim to merge cool and beautiful interiors with a holistic, mindful and intuitive approach to design that results in powerful, healthy spaces that elevate and transform people’s lives. For more information please visit www.galamagrinadesign.com.
Photo by Kate Sade, Unsplash