As fun as it is to skip the office commute, wear your favourite sweats to a meeting, and give your cat plenty of cuddles throughout the day, working from home isn't without its downsides.
Now that several businesses across the globe have been forced to adapt to a remote working structure, as restrictions lift we're left to ask the question: Is working from a communal office space really necessary?
Afterall, your talented team has kept the business running from their homes for months, it's natural to wonder if there's a benefit to continuing this remote working style.
One Forbes article has made the point that while working remotely might be protecting our physical health, as the threat of physical harm decreases, it's important to start considering the mental health of our workers.
Return to Work and employee wellbeing
Two big threats to our mental health in the remote workplace are isolation and burnout. These issues can affect everyone, whether they're accustomed to working remotely or not, and should be taken seriously when deciding if it's time to call your team back to the office.
Isolation and loneliness can be threats even in the best of times, but working in a communal office space does present a variety of unique opportunities to combat loneliness that remote work just can't compete with. Trips to the office kitchen, coffee runs, chit chatting with a desk mate, and even just being surrounded by the bustling energy of our busy colleagues can do wonders in the battle against loneliness. In fact, Equiem's Global Tenant Report, a survey of our 175,000 platform users conducted in April and May 2020, showed that 45% of respondents missed informal chats with colleagues the most.
Another big threat to consider while working remotely is burnout. With the lines between home and office being blurred, employees report working longer hours when they're in a remote setup versus when they're in the office — and 31% of respondents in our survey said the separation of work and home life was a key part of what they missed about the office. There's no train schedule motivating us to shut things down at the end of the day, and for some employees, there's a strong urge to work extra hours in order to prove their productivity in a remote setting.
These longer hours paired with the ongoing responsibilities of having children at home around-the-clock, fewer leisure activities available to unwind with, and a general lack of a structured routine are all key ingredients in the burnout recipe. As witnessed in our 2020 Global Office Tenant Report, tenants and landlords alike agree that we expect an increase in remote working post-lockdown. While this may be the case, encouraging your team to return to work can help re-establish and enforce those clear boundaries between work and home.
While physical health was our motivator for moving into a remote-work setup, mental health should be what drives us back into our communal work spaces.