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Why office space is still important in an age of remote working

| Heidi Thompson | 24 September 2021

With the shift toward working from home likely to be a permanent change, you wouldn’t think that now is a good time to be investing in new office environments.

After all, at Duncan & Toplis, we’ve just introduced a new agile working policy which gives all our team members far greater freedom to work flexible hours and remotely.

So why then, are we also moving forward with plans for a new 10,000 sq ft office development in Louth? It may seem like we’re taking two diverging paths here, but, honestly, we’re not.

For this all to make sense, we need to look at both the scale and nuances of the new, remote working culture and how it changes - but doesn’t eliminate - the need for offices.

While everyone had to work from home if they could under lockdown rules, recent YouGov surveys have suggested that most British workers want to be able to work from home after the pandemic (57%), with one in five wanting to work from home full-time (20%).

While this might seem like a major shift that should make office investments foolhardy, the other side of the coin is that almost three-quarters of workers (74%) still want to come into the workplace some or all of the time.

There are clearly advantages of both working remotely and from an office environment:

Working from home cuts the financial and environmental cost of travel and it saves time which can improve work/life balance. Many find working from home more productive because they have fewer distractions and are in a more comfortable environment, and remote meetings mean more time can be saved not travelling from place to place. It also helps people work more flexibly; taking breaks to do household chores, sharing parental responsibilities more fairly, or working when they feel most productive and taking a break when they’re not.

But working in an office environment alongside your colleagues can also be great for teamwork and creativity. It suits people who prefer the routine of working office hours and it creates a clearer distinction between work and home life. It is also one of the best ways to learn new skills and naturally encourages collaboration and discussion. As well as the benefits of working in the office, employers should also be mindful that not everyone has the space, circumstances or resources to work from home.

Ultimately, we all view remote and flexible working differently, so the approach we’re taking at Duncan & Toplis is one where we give each team member the power to choose what’s right for them, within a very broad framework of expectations.

We introduced this policy last month and, aside from when the job requires working at specific times and places, team members are seizing the opportunity to work in a full range of different ways. Some are in the office full time, others are in a few days a week and some prefer occasionally working at home or in the office. We’re even letting team members choose which office they would like to work at, so they’re able to work in an office that’s closer to their home or their clients.

As a result, our offices are still being used and so are our video conferencing systems, it’s just that we’re now able to use both to their best effect. And so, to continue supporting our growing team and to improve in-office working environments, we’re continuing to invest in bricks and mortar spaces.

So while it might seem like an investment in office space is going against the tide, offices most certainly do have an important role to play in the new agile working cultures that are transforming the world of work.

If you would like professional advice, guidance or support, please contact our team.


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