The Benefits of Physical Office Space
With the pandemic sending us all home to work, the original two-week plan has turned into over a year at home, and many companies are probably wondering the same thing: do we need an office anymore? There are benefits to both, and every company will have different calculations. And before returning to in person work, companies should take health and safety seriously, allowing for more sick days, increasing cleaning and changing air filters, and allowing more working from home options. But a physical office space will always play a role for many companies. We’ve outlined a few benefits for having an office space below as you continue to create your return-to-work plan.
1. Encourages team building
No matter how many Zoom meetings or Microsoft hangouts you schedule, nothing quite compares to having your whole team in the same place. When you’re working alone at home, you tend to lose the feeling of being part of a bigger team. Being around other members of your team helps build that relationship, which clearly shows in your work. If employees feel connected to their teammates, they’re more invested in the work they do to represent their team. It’s also the little things we miss out on by working from home full time: happy hours after work, going to lunch together, gossiping around the water cooler. Those can’t be replicated virtually.
2. Helps define company culture
Your workplace defines your company. Do you promote collaboration by having open workspaces? Does your creativity show in the space that you have created? Do you reward hard work with corner offices? Having a space that reflects your company’s culture helps define the kind of business you are. A physical space helps both your employees and clients fully understand what you’re about.
3. Allows for spontaneous idea sharing and problem solving
Here’s an example of a common situation for you: you have a spontaneous idea about a crazy strategy that might not work. In an office, you go to your coworkers desk and in real time, collaborate, problem solve and cement your idea. Working from home, you write it down, send an email, try unsuccessfully to reach your coworkers, and give up on the idea. How many ideas has your company lost by someone not picking up the phone or losing an email? Bring back spontaneity!
4. Allows for mentoring, especially with younger team members
Mentoring is a powerful tool for younger employees. It helps with confidence, self-awareness, exposure to new thinking, problem solving, giving and receiving feedback, lowers anxiety, and more. It can be incredibly difficult to mentor virtually. Your older employees might be alright having less leadership at home, but are you looking after your young employees and their performance? Millennials and Gen Zs are used to being online and doing almost everything virtually. What you can offer them is a physical space to grow their confidence and careers, ask questions easily, and feel like they are doing something different and important. Note: this doesn’t mean put in pinball games and cold brew on tap! Help them to grow and build, don’t distract them with shiny things.
5. Being around people
Multiple studies have been done that show that the one thing that significantly decreases when working virtually isn’t productivity or quality of work, but employee’s mental health. Humans are by nature pack creatures. We need to be around other people to thrive. Additionally, when you work from home, you’re never really off the clock. Your office is where you live, so you always feel obligated to respond to that email at ten in the evening, to finish that project even if it means working through dinner. Not great for your mental health. Having a different space to work in gives you your home back, your personal and social life. And healthy employees are better employees.
6. Most people want to come back to work
In a study done by the Gensler Research Institute, only 12% of employees interviewed want to remain working from home permanently. On whole, the workforce is ready to get back into the office! Have you polled your team to see what will make them feel comfortable to return?
Overall, every company will need to decide for themselves how to best move forward with virtual and in person work. Whether you return completely to normal, combine in person work and virtual, or just allow more employees to work from home when they need to, do what works best for you and your team. It also might be as simple as rethinking your space and space needs. You can reduce the amount of space you lease and share desks when employees work from home, or increase space to allow employees to work more spaced apart. Everyone’s solutions will be different, but the benefits are clear: have an office space, and welcome your team back when it’s safe!
Tartan Properties Commercial Real Estate Services is an independent commercial real estate brokerage and consulting firm focused on office, industrial, and flex properties in Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia. Using the latest information technology and market knowledge, TARTAN provides creative and professional solutions for its clients’ real estate needs.
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