Why The Office Has a Future (and it’s not just because we all need to interact)

We’ve had the technology to work remotely for years.

Jobs which can be done from home are prolific – from professional services to design. From delivering training across continents from a front room, to building sophisticated marketing platforms in pyjamas.

Commuting has long since been becoming more expensive (and too often, no less painful).

 

Then Covid.

Then remote working was enforced and we tried it and many were convinced it was the future. We never need to commute again! What can’t we do via Zoom?!

Surely the office (as we knew it, at least) is dead. Its function being slimmed down to pure necessity, to support labour-intensive functions such as workshops, or to hold meetings.

 

Unlikely.

Some office staff say they miss the interaction of colleagues and long to return to the interactivity of the office. And some employers will understand that ‘office life’ will be a key hygiene factor for employing and retaining a certain kind of employee.

But it doesn’t explain why there’s likely to be a larger-than-required shift back to the office. Why the pain of rent, leases and space efficiency will almost certainly be re-embraced beyond reasonable requirement. Why employers will enforce the 9-5 for people who don’t need to be there 9-5.

 

And a large part of that reason – whether they realise it or not – will be their managers’ dreadful management skills.

 

Fundamentally many managers struggle to lead and manage remotely. Engagement, trust and productivity dwindle in an office when the management team is weak. When working remotely this happens even more quickly – and both ways round.

If managers don’t have the right management and leadership skills for a team working in front of them, don’t expect their staff to ever provide results from home. And it’s not their fault.

 

Many senior leadership teams will make the error of reverting to the office 9-5 when investing in better leadership and management skills could save them a fortune in square feet.