Tuesday 24 March 2020 12:01 am

Debate: Does the home-working trend caused by coronavirus herald the death of the office?

Emma Long is commercial director of BizSpace
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson is managing director at PowWowNow

As the world gets used to home-working, City A.M. asks whether this means the end for traditional office spaces.

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Yes – Andrew Johnson, managing director at PowWowNow

With millions of people having to work from home worldwide, the future of the office as we know it will be transformed. Companies will have the technology, policies and procedures in place to facilitate flexible working effectively, and employees will be accustomed to a remote working environment.

Flexible working was already growing in popularity; PowWowNow’s research found that 81 per cent of people believe it makes a job more attractive.

Going forwards, companies will embrace flexible working more willingly. Businesses can cut overheads on office space, while remote working has been found to boost productivity. For employees, money and time is saved on not having to commute, while staff can better balance work-life commitments. Meanwhile, the environmental benefits from cutting commutes will be significant.

This global experiment will evoke a reconsideration of the relationship between staff and the workspace, bringing us towards a healthier, happier, and more productive future.

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No – Emma Long, managing director at BizSpace

The coronavirus crisis has forced droves of people to work from home. Initially, we might have enjoyed cutting out commutes and catching up with chores on our lunch breaks, but the novelty soon wears off. 

As humans, we need real social interaction, and research by psychologists says virtual is no substitute. Too much home working feels isolating, while family can be distracting and the merging of home and work can be unhelpful.

The coronavirus outbreak has demonstrated that most of us can work remotely. But do we want to? There is much to miss about the office: great ideas sparked by casual conversations at the water cooler or kettle; a clear separation between family life and the workplace; and the feeling of teamwork and collaboration that can only come from being together with colleagues.

The crisis will end. What we want is the flexibility to choose the best way of working. Working from home alone just won’t cut it, and there will always be a place for the office.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.