The Office Won’t Disappear. It Will Evolve.


Offices around the world are shutting their doors to contain the Coronavirus. It is a sensible, sometimes necessary precaution. But most businesses simply aren’t ready to take this step. 

In 2020 – almost 200 years after the creation of workers’ rights – most employers still don’t offer remote or flexible working.

Worse still, only “glacial progress” is being made in this area. That’s according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s Flexible Working in the UK report, which found that between 2005 and 2017, the proportion of companies that offered flexible working grew just four percentage points, from 23% to 27%. 

For most businesses, closing an office creates huge problems. Without remote working facilities – virtual meetings, good internal messaging, and the right culture – employees will struggle to be productive. Tasks won’t be finished, deadlines will be missed, customers will be left unserved and unhappy. 

What will this mean for the office? 

Businesses will adapt. They will cobble, plaster-over, and eventually, reform. And soon even the most staunchly traditional of employers will have their first taste of flexible working. 

So what will this mean for the office: the fluorescent mainstay of the corporate experience? Some say this flavour of flexibility will make employers change their ways; that remote working will become the norm; and that physical premises will be swallowed by the sands of time. 

But flexible working is not ‘new’. Forward-thinking businesses have been perfecting it for some time. It’s a good thing, too. Their wisdom has become Googleable Goldust for managers struggling to coordinate their scattered workforce. (Take a look: Remote working is trending big time on Twitter and LinkedIn!) 

While a few companies leading the remote-working charge have done away with offices altogether, others, like GrantTree, have struck a balance. Our partners can work from wherever they want, for as long as they want, with little notice. And yet every day our Old Street HQ bustles with people and meetings.

The office, evolved

The office still has a vital role to play in remote-friendly companies. In a world of cheap distraction and digital isolation, offices should become sanctums of concentration and cradles of creativity. 

Many offices will have to change to fill this niche and to tempt employees through their morning commute. They must become more than sterile assortments of desks, plugs, and glass-walled meeting rooms. 

How the office interacts with a business’s culture is also important. As our office manager, Sarah Beck, explains: “Office culture also needs to encompass wellbeing, be that food and drink or activities. With so many companies offering free snacks and a beer fridge as standard, the question is, what can we do that will support motivation and productivity and reflects our company culture.”  

Whatever it becomes, one thing is clear: The office won’t disappear. It will evolve. 

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