Why returning to the office is good for you

by | 12.08.21

Prior to Coronavirus working from home was largely regarded as the gold medal of employment perks. Now as the novelty of not going to going to work and mooching around the house in a tracksuit wears off and lockdown restrictions have ended many people will be missing the work place. Whilst it is completely normal to feel apprehensive about returning to office life the benefits, from improved mental health to increased creativity are not to be underestimated. Here are some reasons why returning to the office will be good for you:

By working with others you learn

Working at home means you are unable to observe office interaction, from overhearing conversations you may improve your understanding of the business you are working for. It’s not just about what you can’t hear either. Up to 93% of our communication is non-verbal, so body language plays an important role. It can help to develop positive relationships, motivate others and improve productivity. Body language is often subtle, so the absence of face-to-face contact can make it even harder to read. This lack of opportunity to observe your work colleagues can be very detrimental to your personal growth and development in the workplace.

Your environment is important

From working out in a gym to watching a play in a theatre a specific environment enhances your experience.  The quality of our work setting has a significant effect on our psychological health and not being in a good work setting can have a negative impact on our productivity. Recreating an office environment at home can be difficult. Some people will have a dedicated office space available to them but others end up working on a kitchen table of balancing a laptop on an ironing board in a shared house. Throw in IT issues and a lack of structure and it’s easy to see how a poor work environment can affect your performance.

 Returning to the office improves productivity

As anyone who has worked from home during lockdown will attest, a pile of washing or the lure of the fridge can prove far more distracting than a talkative college. Research has shown that creativity thrives in an office environment thanks to important conversations round the coffee machine. Studies have also found that people working together in the same room tend to solve problems more quickly than remote collaborators. Steve Jobs famously opposed home working saying “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, and you say “Wow” and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas”

Being at home is bad for your health

Our wellbeing, both mental and physical health, is essential. Working from home can have a negative effect on both physically. It’s easy to slip into poor habits. It apparently takes 66 days for new behaviour to become automatic. With lockdown going on for over 16 months. Poor posture and bad diets are becoming ingrained. From a mental health perspective, isolation caused by the solitude of working remotely can have a huge effect on how we feel , loneliness can be twice as harmful to physical and mental health as any medical condition.

Your work – life balance becomes confused

There is an argument that we need to stop saying ‘working from home’ and start saying ‘living at work’ going into the office allows as to physically differentiate between home and life. Before Covid travelling to and from work allowed us to zone out. Working from home doesn’t quite offer the work-life balance that it was assumed it would be.

You can’t network

There is no I in team feels particularly relevant right now, from bouncing ideas around in meetings to bonding over after – work drinks, office relationships can have a positive impact on everything from job satisfaction to learning and using your skills. Understanding and respecting others means you value their opinions, resulting in a more productive and positive workplace. Even if you work on your own if you are in an office you bump into people perhaps from other businesses who share the office space thereby naturally expanding your network. It’s impossible to create a company structure when everyone is working from home – technology can’t replace human contact.

Technology can stress you out

As tech-savvy as you are, you’re skills aren’t quite on par with those of someone working in an IT Department. Unreliable connections and poor equipment at home can result in valuable work time lost. The IT Department is not going to come out and visit you at home! Then there’s Zoom or Teams fatigue. What at first seemed a wonderful thing to do, meet and talk to people on line can actually become a pain in the neck. Furthermore the longer you spend on video calls the harder it is to get through your workload.

It can affect your performance and progression

Just working with others in the office positively impacts on creativity and productivity, it also benefits team performance. Isolating workers created lots of issues, among them the fact that you won’t receive the support you may need in order to do your job well. People working from home are often overlooked for promotion, there is no boss there overseeing how well you are doing or assessing your ability to move on to bigger and better things so the chances are your career could come stagnant.

The economy will struggle if we all work from home

Lockdown may be over but the high street is struggling to recover from its impact. With no-one going into work, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, beauty salons and shops will struggle to stay afloat. If people are no longer occupying town centre offices, they aren’t using local amenities, some of which may be forced to close. More importantly that flat white coffee from your local coffee shop will never have tasted better.

Whilst it probably was wonderful at first when you were told you would be working from home, overall it’s not all it’s cracked up to be , particularly if you want to get on and formulate a successful career. Equally if you are not looking for a career the comradeship of working with others is priceless. Let’s face being at home all day, staring at your computer or making outgoing calls does not make you a very interesting person does it?

Good Luck

 Angela Burton