The pandemic made us all reconsider what we want from our work environments, with many valuing the extra flexibility that remote working offers—and, in particular, the idea of not having to commute daily. But as the dust settles and companies look ahead to the future, it’s clear that there’s still high demand for many elements of office life.
Finding the right balance in a workplace strategy is no mean feat, but the HQ you choose can make all the difference. To be as effective as possible for your employees and your business, office spaces must provide everything your team has been missing whilst remote—or there’s no point in them getting on that tube in the morning.
In this article, we’ll dig into exactly what this is so that you can find a workspace that ticks all the right boxes.
Finding the best of both worlds
When the first lockdown hit, many employees relished working from home. It was particularly impactful for those whose needs were often overlooked in more traditional working environments, like parents, caregivers, and people with health issues. Even now, three years on, that sentiment remains. A recent survey by the World Economic Forum found that 67% of employees feel they have a better work-life balance with hybrid working, and a whopping 85% still appreciate the time and money they save by skipping the commute.
But that’s only one side of the story; plenty of employees also long for various aspects of the office environment. Every day, we hear about companies announcing their Return to Work plans, but it’s not just the higher-ups who want it. According to that same survey, only 24% of employees want to work from home full-time, with 70% preferring a hybrid approach.
So, how can we find a healthy middle ground? One that incorporates everything we’ve learnt over the last three years and sets the stage for teams to do their best work?
First, we need to take a look at what it is that teams feel like they’re missing out on at home.
Three major reasons why teams are missing the office
There are endless surveys, reports, and debates discussing what employees and employers are missing about the office. But in general, three key themes always seem to arise:
Innovation & creativity
From Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, many high-profile figures have shared a preference for in-person interaction when it comes to enabling creativity. Even venturing out of the home in the first place can stimulate innovation: we have our best ideas when exposed to different surroundings, people, and perspectives. And a recent MIT study found that when workers are dispersed, the relationships that foster innovation often suffer the most.
Whether it’s the excitement that an in-person brainstorm can generate, or the opportunity to spark ideas through spontaneous chats in the kitchen, the general view seems to be that the circumstances, settings, and relationships that encourage creativity are much harder to replicate when employees work remotely.
Team bonding & social interaction
Another big reason people are keen to return to the office is to bond with colleagues. The 2023 Accenture Life Trends Report highlights that those not yet back in the office miss out on the “social aspects, the fun and the friendships” and that employees worldwide notably miss team-building activities, lunch breaks, and general daily interaction with colleagues.
Our jobs take up a significant proportion of our lives, so for many, the strength of the bonds we form in the workplace can substantially impact our overall happiness. And this can have a significant knock-on effect on business, too—as research by Oxford University has shown that happy employees are 13% more productive.
Learning & development
Employees also feel that when working from home, they may miss out on opportunities for learning, development, and mentorship. This is especially prevalent among the youngest members of the workforce. According to Business Insider, Gen Z, in particular, craves the community, learning opportunities, and engagement that in-person work can provide.
The 70-20-10 model for learning and development also holds that individuals gain 70% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal training. That middle 20% is much harder to maintain in a remote environment, meaning personal development could suffer.
How to choose an office that makes the commute worthwhile
Once we know what employees are missing the most, learning what to prioritise in your office search becomes much more manageable. You’ll also be much less likely to face resistance from employees if they can see that you’ve put their needs first.
In the words of Accenture, “People will only be willing to come to the office for the promise of community, relationships, and factors that enrich their careers”, and we couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’ve done everything we can to ensure that Uncommon delivers on all these fronts and more.
An environment that fosters creativity and innovation
From the layout of our spaces to the air quality within them, everything about Uncommon is designed to help creativity and innovation thrive. You’ll have access to top-class presentation facilities and meeting rooms, wellness areas to invigorate mind and body and be part of an inspirational community of like-minded businesses. We’ve even fitted our buildings with top-notch ventilation and filtration systems to ensure your team has fresh air and clear heads to do their best work.
A place for your team to socialise
With an optimal balance between communal spaces and areas for private work, it’ll be easy for employees to bond with colleagues—but they’ll have no problem finding somewhere quieter when they need to get some focused time or take calls. Our spaces are also located in key parts of London (all with easy transport links), making it easier than ever to organise those casual lunches, after-work drinks, and other team-building activities that are so much more effective in person.
A space that’s literally designed for effective work
Whether it’s a client meeting, a conference call, or a deep work session, our workspaces make it easy for your team to do their best work without even thinking about it. With fast and secure WiFi, bespoke communication solutions, and a fantastic team available whenever you need them, we take care of all the admin and logistics, so you can get on with what matters.
A setup that gives you all the flexibility you need
We know that flexibility is paramount for ambitious companies adapting to the new world of work. Rather than being tied down with long-term leases, at Uncommon, you can take a flexible contract with no hidden costs, allowing you to scale up or change your team setup when needed.
Make Uncommon your hub of creativity, culture, and collaboration
While remote working has its advantages, it’s clear that employees still value many of the less tangible elements of office life—especially the ones that foster creativity, encourage social interaction and enable learning and development. And by choosing a workspace that makes all of these things easy, you’ll more than justify their commute.
At Uncommon, we pride ourselves on being that workspace. Ready to see for yourself? Book a tour today.