Having been working from home since February this year, marketing director Isabelle, said the experience has been liberating – at first.
“I’m free to plan my day – I get to fix my own meals, do my chores, and sneak in a power nap in between my work.”
Now in her 9th month working from home, Isabelle can’t help but to feel something is lacking, and she is not the only one.
“I didn’t think I’d miss the small things like having my own table with my décor, stationery, and other work stuff just lying around the way I like.”
Working from home does have its advantages, but being absent from the office environment and away from colleagues for a prolonged period of time has made people come face to face with what’s missing in a home setup.
Compass Offices spoke to several individuals who are eager to be back to the office and asked what they missed most about working in the office.
1. "What's for Lunch?"
Some people find it a struggle to decide a place for lunch, but for payments consulting manager Elaine, it’s one time in the office she gets really excited about.
Her return to office checklist involves a full list of new places she’d like to visit with her teammates.
“I know it’s just an hour, but I like that we have one dedicated time to just enjoy some good food together. It’s nice just being able to hang out.”
2. Office Cliques
Whether we like it or not, cliques exist in the workplace. Some people are unintentionally absorbed into it, while others gravitate towards it. Not all are unhealthy, however, as some connections are built purely on shared interests.
“For me it’s not about associating with the right people, or gossiping, more like a sense of belonging. I miss going to work and being part of a group,” said Jean, an office administrator.
3. Water Cooler Conversation
A quick discussion during a chance meeting at a common area can work wonders, and for some, wonders can take place in the pantry.
“You can bump into someone and have an impromptu discussion with them or just to bounce off ideas, and by some chance, you get an inspiration.
“If nothing else, they remind you to take a breather and you can unwind together. You can’t schedule this over ‘Zoom’ at home, it has to happen naturally,” shares Tom, a data analyst.
4. Quick Approvals
According to public relations and communications manager Katherine, there is less turnaround time when you’re working in the office.
“Approvals for something is faster if I can just pop by my superiors’ office and show them something immediately. Sure, people read their emails, but do they respond ASAP?
“For the same reason, I prefer physical meetings because there is less chance for awkward silences or dead air.”
5. Body Language
“Sometimes you can tell if you’re doing okay with your work (or not!) by reading the body language of your boss.
“I used to think I have a good grasp of that, so I know when to fix things before a potential screw-up. I’m definitely losing out on this working from home.” – Becca, business development manager.
You can’t help but to overhear a conversation you’re not involved in, especially when it happens out in the open, near you.
Exercise this “advantage” respectfully and you might catch some nugget of information that can help you anticipate something.
“I’m not going to avoid these situations if it helps me stay on top of things somehow. Emergency meeting? I’ll prepare that report ahead of time. Someone’s in a bad mood? I’m not going to pick a bone with them. It’s totally win-win.” – May, strategic planner.
7. Budget for Utilities
For digital marketer Ellie, she yearns to return to the office to help save on utility costs.
“It’s easy to take the basic necessities the office provides for granted – the full time air conditioning, the electricity I consume by using my devices and chargers, the great bandwidth, water and beverage, and yes, even the toilet paper.
“You really don’t know what you’ve got until you feel the pinch from paying your bills.”
8. "Happy Hour, Anyone?"
Human interaction is not something everyone can replace with a virtual presence. For someone who’s in the sales line like Ashley, there is greater need for physical engagement.
“Working from home has significantly reduced my social and work interaction, which is unusual for me as my job practically demands it.
“I also miss my after-work drinks with colleagues. This plan usually happens when we swivel around in our chairs and ask, ‘who’s up for drinks?’.”
We Need the Office
In many ways, the office is just as important as your work.
They serve as a consistent and reliable place to collaborate, innovate, and create, where people build a career, make personal developments, and form meaningful interpersonal relationships.
It is not just four walls, but how you shape your space and environment to help you achieve your goals.
Names changed for privacy purposes.