There have been many debates about the pros and cons of offices over the past few months – and whether working from home is here to stay. At Faith PR, we had flexible working in place before coronavirus hit, so we have seen the benefits that this can bring.
WORKING FROM HOME VS THE OFFICE
But, while I remain an advocate for flexible and remote working, choice is key – I believe the office still has a place in our lives, especially in a creative industry such as ours. An agency’s most precious assets are its people and the individual human engagement that drives us can’t be completely replicated remotely.
Sure, you can have virtual brainstorms, team briefings and replicate some elements of agency culture, camaraderie and banter online, but harder-to-measure benefits like creativity, client engagement and employee wellbeing need human interaction to work. So many ideas spring from spontaneous and random chats that come out of shared experience.
Many would argue that productivity is increased working from home – though you mainly hear that argument from those lucky enough to have a separate working space in their house and no children crawling or running around their feet!
Also, the buzz you get in an agency, which drives a lot of activity and urgency, is missing. Not to mention the time it takes to type out endless emails or arrange zoom calls for what would normally just be a quick two-minute chat.
There’s also the on-the-job interaction, training and guidance for more junior members that come with an office environment. Almost all the comments I have seen in favour of working from home forever are from those who are more established in their careers and have the necessary skills, knowledge and discipline to work independently and remotely.
But what about school leavers and graduates who have yet to acquire those skills? So much is learned from face-to-face interaction and observing behaviours from their colleagues. Emotional intelligence is not easily learned over a screen!
Ditching the office too quickly would cause huge disadvantages in the future. As with all things, balance is the key which is why I’m back in the office and will be for a while yet.