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Do we Want to go Back to the Office?

From the start of the pandemic to today in which we are being asked to return to the office, I ask the question of why?


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Ben Shelley

2 years ago | 4 min read

Is there still room for large scale collaboration?
Is there still room for large scale collaboration?

This is an evolving question.

One that has grown from a definite no to a desire to go back and then a pause to consider the two.

The most heard desire is now for a hybrid approach. To be free to craft our own working weeks in order to get the most out of life for ourselves and our employer.

A hybrid approach sets expectations on both sides. It sets the expectation that the employee will attend the office, but is left free to choose which days to do so. When not in attendance the employee is free to work from home. Whether this is via the sofa, a dedicated home office or outside in the garden.

A hybrid approach provides a two way trust centre for the employer and employee. It also provides opportunities for teams to meet in a face to face environment in order to provide additional collaboration opportunities.

My hope is for a hybrid approach.




Never go Back

Between March and October’20 this was my mindset. I was set on the consideration that I never wanted to go back. The office was a commodity of the past and there was no reason to go back. I could complete more tasks, get more sleep and save a lot more money by staying home and therefore, during this timeframe I was set.

The initial outbreak was assisted by the consideration that the weather was perfect. My wife was also home and therefore, I could work from 8:30am to 5pm and then sign off. At this point I could finish work and head outside for a walk, exploring the eerie silence that surrounded us. No cars zooming past and no rush hour traffic, it was perfect.

All good things must come to an end and my wife had to go back to school in September and I was left alone. This is not to say that I was lonely as I do enjoy alone time, but the disruption to the idilic nature of existence that I was living in removed me from the dream bubble I was living.




The Long Winter

November brought with it lockdown 2 and whilst this felt loop warm in terms of restrictions, it was the start of the long winter.

At this time the temperatures began to drop (in the United Kingdom) and the loneliness got to even me. I love time to myself but at this time I was left yearning for the opportunity to head into the office and engage with other humans but restrictions put pay to this.

The days seemed to drag on for a lot longer and our evenings walks became time in front of the television, whilst we checked the infection rates on a daily basis. We did so with the rest of the country but for us, it was not for the news but to attempt to figure out what to do with regards to our wedding.

The question of moving it or keeping it where it was dominated proceedings. Rather than leaving room for walks, games and discussions, evenings became like our second jobs.

This period was not helped by the weather and the headlines which were floating around. We even removed ourselves from all available social media, as the comments were more harmful than helpful, yet there were bright spots. We managed our first Christmas together and as the New Year rolled around we saw hope in the form of the vaccines.




A Desire For Hybrid

Around February time the rates began to reduce and the enjoyment returned to our lives.

There was one period of isolation that my wife and I needed to work through but that led to nothing. Neither of us had the virus and the biggest damage was that I was unable to leave the house on my birthday.

The Spring period continued to reduce cases to the point in which the government addressed the nation. At that point my wife and I were glued to the feed. We wanted a roadmap and we got a roadmap. Hope was restored, not certainty as there were caveats to everything but we had hope and this redressed the balance.

Work became tolerable once again. I was no longer watching the clock. I was instead counting down to each milestone in order to gain another level of freedom in my life. I was able to head into the office towards May/June time and the contact provided by being around others helped me finalise my opinion.

Hybrid working, with the choice being on that of the employee became the main goal. Working from home all day, everyday provided little opportunity for variety and going back full time seemed like a step in the wrong direction. I yearned for freedom with a little structure, to be told that I needed to go in once a week and spend some time with my team.




A Final Thought

At the present point in time I am officially still working from home all day, everyday, but I am able to book time in to visit my office. My company has not mandated this for everyone, yet is encouraging people to start using the office. This is something that I agree with, as if you force people then they are more likely to say no.

If you enable a harmonious office environment and for people to come and go as they choose, then they will choose to do so. We are sociable creatures and the pandemic has proven this. We desire to be around others, but the big caveat here is that we want the freedom to be able to do it around our lives and on our terms.

I desire the opportunity to craft a hybrid working schedule on my terms in order to get everything that I need to done each week. Being productive is down to the individual and if we enable the ability for everyone to work on their terms then the world will respond as our governments wish us to, just not on a full time basis.


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Ben Shelley

#husband #marketer #writer #runner #reader #travel


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