With Covid and lockdowns forceing to people to work from home during 2020 many commentators have predicted the death of the traditional office. Large companies across the globe have offered staff the ability to work from home for ever. Regional towns and beachside suburbs have been bracing themselves for an influx of digitally driven employees fleeing the city centres and pouncing on lower rent and property prices. But is that really going to happen? At United Co. we have dusted off our crystal ball, gazed into the future and seen that the office is here to stay for a while yet.
1. Office Design
Let’s start with the basics. Houses are designed to be a place of safety, comfort and leisure. Our home is where we go to escape the stresses and strains of the office. Offices are designed as a place to be productive. Offices need good lighting, furniture that supports you ergonomically to power through a key report, a place where you can focus and do what you do best. Your couch is designed to snuggle up on and binge watch The Crown when you need to turn off your brain. United Co’s private offices provide sit to stand desks, ergonomic chairs and more in an environment with ample natural lighting.
Most homes have good internet connections. The never ending NBN roll out will deliver better connectivity to houses all over Australia (eventually). The technology required to run a successful business is bigger than that though. Home internet isn’t designed to share bandwidth between your Zoom team meeting, your partner’s digital seminar and the kids online classrooms and lectures simultaneously. With high speed fibre internet connections and onsite tech support a United Co. private office has all the tech tools you need to hit your business goals.
3. Time Management
Having a balance between work and home is difficult at the best of times. A balance is vital to physical, mental and emotional health (more on that below) so having work and home exist in the same time and space creates conflicts with scheduling and priorities. You need to help the kids with homework, do the laundry and finish that spreadsheet. A physical separation of home and office helps to match the tasks and priorities to the location you are in. A recent study by the Harvard Business School actually showed that shifting to remote work added an extra 48 minutes to the average workday. A United Co. private office can be a sanctuary for you to focus on the job at hand before heading home to relax.
We talk of the light bulb moment as something that appears miraculously in our head, a genius idea that is fully formed and ready to make us millions. However the light bulb itself, attributed to Thomas Edison is actually the culmination of improvements and developments of other people’s work and ideas. Edison’s lightbulb is ironically a perfect example of collaboration. His lightbulb followed the work of Humphry Davy and Joseph Swan with Edison and Swan eventually merging their companies and working together to improve the design. Working with people and having ideas spark off each other has always been a huge part of working in an office. United Co’s Fitzoy space is shared with entrepreneurs from a range of sectors so you could bump into your Edison in the members’ kitchen or at one of the regular community events.
5. Team Building and Onboarding
Building a team and bringing someone into your team is not as easy as following a set of Ikea instructions. There is no easy tick box chart you can follow to make someone feel valued and give them a sense of belonging. While there have been many interesting stories of new employees starting their career remotely and the rise of digital interns only time will tell how durable those connections are. Over the years studies keep showing that strong workplace friendships increase productivity, job satisfaction and staff retention. Formal organised conversations are easy via chat and video calls but how do you replace the informal banter about last night’s footie, a good restaurant recommendation or complementing a new haircut. These conversations start randomly when you pass in the office kitchen or meet in the lift, these are the conversations that build true connections. United Co. private offices can hold from 1 to 50 staff to suit the size of your team.
Connection goes beyond the team too, we humans crave connection. We are tribal by nature. Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections said “Bees need a hive, humans need a tribe”. Our team is one tribe but we have so many more; there is family of course, our sports team, our business network, our spin class, so many more. Feeling that sense of community and belonging lifts us when we are down and gives us a sense of stability in the World. Private office members at United Co. have access to regular community events we they can connect with other coworkers.
7. Physical Wellness
Probably the biggest reason that we won’t see the end of the office is surprisingly wellness. Physical wellness has been hugely affected with staff working from home. A few years ago, when we all went to buy step counters, we bought into the need to do our 10,000 steps a day. Working remotely has meant that with our desk is now five steps away from our bed, the kettle is two steps away and we don’t need to walk across the office to go to the bathroom. Despite all of the YouTube workouts we still managed to put on a few kilos because we simply don’t have to walk to the train station twice a day. Even better than your step count, an office with a gym can level up the physical recovery.
8. Mental Health
The awareness of mental health impacts has been growing for many years and lockdown has shone an intense light on the issue. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression have been widely reported. Being away from our community, our tribe, has put a big strain on so many of us. More and more surveys are reporting that staff are keen to get back to an office environment on a part-time or full time basis. The main reasons given are to have a sense of routine and to see people face to face again. At United Co. we value your mental health as much as we value our own which is why we have a quiet or prayer room as part of our wellness suite and we host regular community events to help build everyone’s tribe.