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    Will the office environment ever be the same again?

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    Are you planning to return to an office any time soon? With the Government’s work from home guidance set to end in England on June 21st, many businesses will be busy forming plans for what their workplaces might look like in the immediate future.

    The events of the past year or so have forced change in lots of ways, with some people questioning if the office environment will ever be the same again. Millions of employees have gotten used to life without lengthy commutes or uncomfortable dress codes. But there’s also evidence to suggest that office working will continue to play a role in one way or another.

    Shifting attitudes
    There’s been a marked shift in attitudes to home working over the past 12 months. Many staff will have discovered its advantages for the first time, such as extra spare time and less interruptions, while senior management teams are realising that many roles can be performed just as well remotely.

    Employees across many industries are now going to expect flexible working policies as standard. For business owners, the pluses of regular office working are unlikely to outweigh the risk of losing out on talent.

    The advantages of office working
    With that being said, office working still has clear benefits for employees and businesses alike. Home working can lead to feelings of isolation, whereas offices provide valuable social interaction and a change of environment.

    Many remote businesses have even put in regular ‘water cooler meetings’ to try recreate the small talk that would usually take place among colleagues. In-person collaboration can also spark creativity and enthusiasm that’s often harder to generate when working solo.

    New precautions
    So, what will the office look like for those that choose to return? A greater emphasis on hygiene is an obvious improvement, with hand sanitisers and cleaning sprays helping to reduce the spread of both everyday germs and more serious illnesses.

    Cleaning teams are likely to become more common sights in high-traffic areas. Even common colds that once swept through office-based teams could be eliminated if hygiene is taken more seriously.

    A balanced approach
    Whether you’re for or against it, it’s likely that traditional full-time office work will become a rarity. A recent survey found that less than one in five people want to return for a full five days a week.

    Companies are quickly adopting hybrid working patterns that allow for a mixture of both remote and office work, catering to different styles and attitudes. Tactics such as hot desking could replace permanent seating plans meanwhile as businesses look to reduce capacity and create more shared spaces.

    Office culture is currently going through its largest shift in decades. Could businesses that fail to move with the times lose ground on those that lead the way?


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    Lisa Carter

    All stories by: Lisa Carter