Will we ever go back to the office again?

What does the future of the workplace look like?

Before the pandemic, only 3% of American workers regularly worked from home; now almost every knowledge worker on the planet has given it a go.

In an interesting article in The Economist [are you a subscriber?], questions are asked about the future of the workplace.

Will 'the office' still be an important part of work in the future?

Is the office finished?
The fight over the future of the workplace

If, as many speculate, working from home becomes more of a mainstream way in which we engage with our professional lives in the future - this could have some profound implications for many aspects of modern life that we're kind of assumed would just carry on as before.

For example:

  • What will happen to office buildings if there is less of a need for them?
  • What happens to cities and the secondary ecosystem of coffeeshops, restaurants, delis that service the office worker community?
  • How will organisational culture change with individuals and teams working apart from each other?
  • What happens to the concept of the 'office romance' and subsequently how will marriages and family life be affected, with family members spending so much more time with each other?
  • What will happen to public transport, vehicle sales, levels of pollution with so many people avoiding the daily commute?
  • How will remote working affect how business recruits talent (now that you can effectively hire talent from anywhere on the planet)?
  • Does this change symbolise the dawn of true globalisation of the knowledge worker?
  • How will this affect the future of small towns, that will no doubt see an influx of professionals moving out of the cities - choosing rather a quieter environment to live in?

Now that we have all successfully trialed extended periods of working from home - it's hard to see how we can possibly go back to a reality that this was not a viable option.

This will have an impact on the future of how we utilise and view 'the office' - it role is finally up for a creative re-imagining.