By: Georgia Sandom, Divisional Director at Office Space in Town (OSiT)
Not all workers have benefited from the shift to home working in the pandemic. In October, Boris Johnson stressed that some face-to-face working was ‘essential’ for those at the beginning of their careers to learn important lessons and to develop within their roles.
With the pandemic continuing to bring uncertainty, and businesses looking to find innovative ways to recover, the office has a crucial role to play. Not only does it encourage collaborative work and a supportive company culture, the effects of lockdown have shed light on how essential it is to the wellbeing, productivity and development of younger workers.
Health is the number-one priority
The spread of the omicron variant of coronavirus serves as a reminder that we have yet to reach a post-pandemic era. Businesses must prioritise the health of workers when they work from the office. According to OSiT’s recent research, 60% of workers would feel safer if extra hygiene measures were put in place.Some measures for creating more covid-secure office spaces include: mandatory lateral flow testing prior to entry into the office; hand sanitiser on desks; social distancing markers; and mandatory face masks and gloves.
Development opportunities are essential
Ensuring that professionals have the option to work from the office at least some of the time is integral to personal motivation. According to recent research, working from home during the pandemic has reduced the level of productivity in the UK -with the personal output of each worker falling by 19.9%.
Moreover, the office has a key part to play in facilitating those ‘water cooler moments’ that are so important in the early stages of career development and cannot simply be recreated on Teams. It is no surprise that working from home has left young workers feeling more uncertain about their abilities. Now, only 57% of young people feel they have the appropriate skills for their job.
Returning to hybrid working as soon as workers feel safe will encourage young professionals to ask more questions and absorb information directly from those in senior positions. It is essential for the development of skills that are critical to the success of individuals, as well as businesses themselves.
Avoiding burnout by providing suitable facilities
According to a recent OSiT survey, 37% of workers find it more difficult to unplug from work at the end of the day while working from home. This increases the risk of burnout by diminishing employees’ ability to switch off and rest.
Also, many young professionals live in urban house shares, meaning that their bedrooms have become their main workspace. Indeed, the results of OSiT’s survey show that 33% of workers cite the lack of dedicated workspace as a major disadvantage of working from home.
But these issues, and their solutions, go beyond the statistics. Witnessing the impact of home working on friends and colleagues during lockdown has inspired me to found the ‘Lonely Worker’s Club’– a community that worksin the safe, Covid-compliant environment of one of OSiT’s serviced offices. The ‘Lonely Workers Club’ highlights the importance of the office for setting good work/life boundaries, which support both productivity and wellbeing.
Creating a healthy working culture
Throughout the pandemic, young workers have faced far greater feelings of isolation and disconnectedness than senior staff members. Research shows that they were three times more likely to seek mental health support than older colleagues. It is clear that part of the role of the office is to ensure that our working culture supports wellbeing and potential feelings of loneliness.
As a result of Covid-19, young professionals are missing out on the social aspects, and opportunities to network, that come with working from the office. Research from Nationwide suggests that 58% of Gen Z workers feel that spending face-to-face time with colleagues is essential to effective work. So, working from home full-time will simply not give workers what they need to thrive.
Prioritising the office space to ensure for future success
As the pandemic continues to be present in all of our lives, businesses should think seriously about implementing safe hybrid working options for their workers. Those in the earlier stages of their careers deserve to experience a more collaborative and sociable approach to work, that prioritises overall wellbeing and encourages young professionals to learn directly from their older, more experienced peers. Not only will this benefit individuals, but it is also paramount for ensuring success among businesses and the UK’s workforce as whole.
 OSiT survey
 OSiT survey
 OSiT survey