The world has changed in the last couple of years and so did the work environment.
One of them is the growing adoption of flexible and dynamic working spaces. The power has shifted from the employer to the employees and now, more than ever, their voices are being heard.
For some context, in 2020, when a lot of companies shut down their office spaces we saw the rise of remote working: lots of companies realized that productivity grew and that people were still doing their jobs and tasks. On the other side, employees figured out the benefits of working from home, saving time with commuting, and rediscovering hobbies and quality time.
However, after 2 years, we started to go back to normal: some companies re-opened their offices and one big question came to mind:
How do people want to work now?
In this article, we are talking just about that: what happens with office spaces, how people want to work, and what is the fuss about hybrid working.
At the end of the article, we will share with you a list of alternatives to office spaces so stick to the end to see what else is out there.
Evolution of the office space: then and now
Even though we take them for granted and they are (or used to be) a great part of our lives, office spaces have not been here since the beginning of time.
Just like everything else, they came from somewhere.
It’s true that now we see them as separators for our work-life and, as Lucy Kellway writes in her article How the office was invented “the Egyptians had their pyramids, the Romans had aqueducts, and Victorians [had] their railways. What we’ve got are gigantic glass and steel boxes of desks, whiteboards, and water coolers.”
However, they were quite the breakthrough. We started to write and draw and copy texts so we needed a quiet place for that. A place with some space, a table, and where we could get things done without being disturbed. There are a number of paintings that show especially church people that worked in quiet spaces designed specifically for sedentary activities such as copying and studying manuscripts.
Then we had lawyers, police officers, and doctors. We had like-minded people congregating and forming a company. These people needed a space to work in. And even though now we see office spaces as something modern, all they had back in the day was a room with desks and enough space to work in.
Nowadays, some office spaces look like hotel rooms. They have couches and beanbags, and coffee makers, they are soundproof and have meeting rooms the size of a flat. That’s quite impressive.
The office space evolved with interior design trends as well. We had retro offices and it was a time when they were colorful and bright. Now we have so many options and our offices look amazing.
Let’s get back to our age. The spaces that we work in are usually welcoming, have great furniture, smell nice and it’s great to separate your personal life from your work life.
Yet still, it’s not all about that, isn’t it?
Office spaces were not the only ones to evolve. We did too.
Our needs and expectations, the way we perceive work, and our careers. It all changed. People used to work 12 hours in factories just to put bread on the table and now we’re asking for a gym membership and a dental plan when we get hired.
We’ve come a long way.
Now we want to belong somewhere, we want to make a difference. We want our opinion to matter and we need to find meaning in our work. As we previously mentioned, the pressure is now on the employer.
Who goes to the office anymore?
Now, there are people who can’t work from home. Not even in a hybrid manner.
Not everybody gets this luxury. We’re not all freelancers, advisers, coaches, and that list of jobs that can be easily done even from your couch.
Lawyers need office spaces. Constructors, engineers, sports people, people that work in the public administration, bankers, and the list can go on and on.
You can’t go to the bank and get in a zoom call with the person who was supposed to take care of you. They need to be there in order to get things done.
When you get to be flexible with your work it is easy to assume that everyone can work from home and office spaces are just an expense.
And there is something more to mention here: some people, even if they have the chance to work from home, prefer to go to the office.
Shocking news, we know.
This survey shows that some businesses still value going to the office and having a team close together. 41% of the employees questioned felt anxious and isolated from working from home during the pandemic. This is where office spaces come in handy.
Pros and cons of office spaces
As with everything in life, office spaces do have both advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, it’s all about what works best for you. For extroverts, going to the office is like recharging their batteries, while for introverts, is getting them to low battery in a matter of minutes. And this is only one criterion. There are many more.
However, to properly do our job, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons when it comes to office spaces. At the end of this, you get to decide what team you’re choosing.
- Dedicated workspace to help with your work-life balance.
You saw this one coming. Your brain needs help to separate things. If you’re working from the same place you’re sleeping and eating, you may start to feel less productive. If your brain knows that home is where you relax, it will get in relax mode. Having an office space allows you to separate your personal life from work.
It’s quite easy to work overtime when you’re at home. But it is not healthy.
- You get proper equipment and amenities.
There are some amenities you liked in your office. The desk, the professional coffee machine, and all the gadgets. You can buy them, but the investment will be quite big.
Or, you can just enjoy them at the office, where they were purchased especially for you.
- Offices encourage team building
The Gensler Research Institute, released results from its “U.S. Work from Home Survey 2020.” When asked about what they miss the most about going to the office, 74% said they miss the people. Socializing, sharing ideas, and being part of a community.
We are, at the end of the day, social beings that need social interactions. Work is a place to meet new people, and going to the office facilitates that.
- Office space influences company cultures
What employers live in their day-to-day life has a huge influence on a company’s reputation. A company’s office and the services it offers can say a lot about it. You can still convey your culture with remote workers, but it might not be received the same.
- They allow mentoring and sharing ideas
It’s easier for juniors to be mentored and for people to spontaneously share ideas when they are all in the same space. You can ask questions and have impromptu brainstorming without having to send an invitation to an online meeting.
- Regular distractions
Especially when we’re talking about open office spaces, regular distractions are a thing. Jim might have forgotten his headphones, while Pam is sneezing on and on. You could fix it with headphones but it’s hard to wear them all day long and sometimes distractions mean people coming to you to talk without reading your body language that tells them it’s not a good time.
- Lack of privacy
Some people may feel weird working with so many others in the same room. Especially for those who value their privacy, office spaces can seem like too much.
Your company’s office space might be close to your home or really far. Commuting times are a major turn-off for employees. And it’s fair: nobody likes to spend time in traffic. And not all of us are lucky enough to have the office within reach.
- Office Spaces can increase stress and anxiety
In an office, you may feel more stressed and under more pressure. Your manager is there with you and you might feel watched every second. You can get overstimulated and that causes a great deal of stress as well.
Noisiness can be a problem for people who have trouble focusing on more than one task at a time. Not everybody is used to working in silence and because communication is more within reach, noisiness is as well. People might not be aware that they are disturbing or that they have been talking loudly for the last 15 minutes, but you’re definitely aware.
What’s the future like?
That’s a great question and it is currently asked by many.
A survey conducted by JLL in the summer of 2022, asked the same question. Plus, they wanted to find out more about how employees and employers perceive office space.
77% of their respondents strongly agree that offering remote/hybrid work will be critical to attracting and retaining talent. They stated that they love the flexibility that hybrid working offers: being able to go to the office some days and staying home the others.
If you’d like to know more about hybrid work and why people want it so badly, we have an article on this topic. You can read it here.
On the other side, 72% of organizations agree that in the long term the office will remain central to their work ecosystem and 73% planned or are planning to make all office spaces open and cooperative. The study is amazing and has valuable data so if you want to take a closer look, you can find it here.
Going to the office is here to stay. And hybrid work is here to stay as well. It will be a challenge for companies to make every side happy, but at the end of the day, human resource is the most important.
Other options when it comes to office spaces
As promised at the beginning of the article, we gathered a list of different options when it comes to office spaces. These are options that will suit you as a freelancer if you’re working with a company that has offices in other countries if you’re a business owner or someone that wants to go to the office but doesn’t want all the distractions. We recommend researching each and everyone and testing before choosing.
- Flex Workspace: Nooka
The great thing about Nooka is that it crosses out all the cons of office spaces. You don’t get distracted, they are soundproof, you don’t have to commute as you can just find the one that is closest to you, you still get that separation from your personal life, there is no one to tell you what to do and you can book it for as long as you need.
Nooka allows you to get all the benefits from an office space without having to deal with the cons. You can get the app and book yourself some hours to test it out.
- Coworking Spaces
Coworking Spaces are similar to office spaces but they work nicely for freelancers, small teams, and people who work for businesses that have their headquarters in different countries. It’s great that you still get to socialize and benefit from all those amenities, but the problem of distractions and lack of privacy still remains. You can check our full list of pros and cons right here.
- Making an office room in your home
If you are really fond of your home, you could make a special room for you to work in. Obviously, it will require a bit of an investment, but it will make a difference. This only works for people with big spaces or that are willing to pay more for an extra room. It can also work if you are a photo or video content creator and it would be hard for you to carry everything in an office.
- Coffee Shops
We had to include the good, old, coffee shop on the list. It has something cozy to it, and it allows you to get some work done without being distracted. However, it’s hard to imagine going every single day there and it gets complicated when you have lots of meetings.
In the end, it’s what works best for you that will win. But companies will also have to adapt to your requirements and that’s where all the fun begins.