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Why it's normal to miss the office

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·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
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An office manager sitting at a large desk and talking to his employees during a morning meeting.
Half of Brits say they miss workplace chats when working from home. Photo: Getty

There are two camps when it comes to remote working. For some, doing away with commuting, awkward office ‘banter’ and overbearing managers and being able to work from home is a dream come true. For others, it’s a tedious, never-ending slog of Zoom calls and interruptions from housemates, pets and kids.

There are obvious reasons why working from home is less-than-ideal for some people. If you live in a studio apartment, for example, it’s going to be harder to create a separate home working space than if you live in a house with an office.

Even if you have a desk in your home, it’s still normal to miss working in an office. More than two thirds of workers admitted they have missed their workplace during the pandemic with their desk, gossip and even meetings among the most longed for things, according to a survey of 2,000 people.

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Nearly two-thirds (65%) said they now appreciate the social side of work more than ever, with 51% missing the workplace chats. Food also featured, with 14% missing the tea rounds and 17% longing for the days where colleagues brought in birthday treats.

“I like working in an office simply because I like people,” Charlotte Balbier, a business mentor. “From a mindset point of view, it is really useful to have that routine of leaving the house, travelling to work, and shifting out of home-mode and into work-mode.

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“It is also brilliant from a creativity perspective to bounce ideas off people face to face, gauge instant reactions, and come up with fresh concepts. Just having that personal interaction is so beneficial and has a hugely positive impact on our mindset and mental health.”

Working from home more often allows us to enjoy a great work/life balance, reduced travel costs and the ability to better focus on certain tasks, but it isn’t for everyone. According to a TotalJobs survey of 2,000 UK workers, almost half (46%) of UK workers have experienced loneliness during lockdown. Two thirds say working from home during lockdown has negatively affected the variety of our social interactions.

“While it is exciting times for work from home advocates — I am one of them — people who dislike working from home seem to have got lost along the way, with their voices not being heard as loudly as they should be,” says career coach Elizabeth Houghton, who runs Sutton Full Potential.

“We are social creatures, although technology is incredible and we can have as many virtual meetings as we want, it is not the same as being in the office around people,” she adds. “The solitary nature of working from home really is not good for us, most people will have far better mental health and wellbeing if they work in an office or near other people.”

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According to research by CIPD, employers expect the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis to increase to 37% after the pandemic, compared to 18% before. For many workers, the option to do their jobs remotely part-time would be ideal. According to a poll of more than 600 professionals by Stanton House, over 70% now want to work in the office less than two days per week in the future.

For Balbier, allowing workers to work remotely part of the time is a no brainer. “It has benefits for both parties. From an employer’s perspective it offers huge cost savings — smaller offices are required, as are resources like tea, coffee, and loo rolls — these small things soon add up,” she says.

“Teams can still come into a smaller hub office, just less often. Employees can come in, see colleagues, enjoy face to face meetings, but also benefit from spending more time at home,” Balbier adds.

“This flexibility is a fantastic perk, and one which will likely foster increased employee loyalty. Having that balance is also beneficial for mental health, relationship-building, and maintaining connections with colleagues. This flexibility also opens up opportunities to working mothers, carers, and others like them who have commitments at home but would love to spend some time back in an office environment. This can only be a good thing.”

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