Back to the Office... Why Bother?

Emma shares her top 5 reasons to return to the office - at least for some of the week…

Working in education meant that even before kids I used to think of September as the start of a ‘new year’ and make a few resolutions.

September 2021 feels like the freshest of beginnings.

It's business as usual, isn't it? Most Covid restrictions have been lifted across the UK, schools are preparing to return with a determination for minimal disruption to learning and many more of us are dusting down the work attire and heading back to our offices and shared workspaces.

But everything has changed.

The largely unquestioned dominance of the office has been turned upside down so completely by the mass WFH experiment we’ve just lived through. The inevitability of a daily and lengthy commute is no more.

For many in roles not requiring a customer focus or on-site presence to meet deliverables, there is a renewed focus on how to spend our precious time and energy.

There is greater clarity for more of us on the why and what of heading to the office…why bother?

As someone who has enjoyed a hybrid work pattern for the last 15 years, here’s my list of top 5 reasons to return to the office - at least for some of the week:

1. Physical and meaningful engagement with others – including random and spontaneous sparks of communication – for collaboration on projects yes but also for the social element our working lives bring

2. The energising qualities of work noise and a change of scene with activity happening all around you - sure beats zoom fatigue!

3. Feeling more connected to your organisation’s shared culture or common purpose – especially important for new hires and essential to reinforce for those who have experienced furlough. Organisations continue to be super keen to work out how you foster this shared culture and understanding when the physical space, the routines and rhythms of all being together and doing things a certain way are gone...

4. Enjoying adult-only space and the lure of the office in promising time uninterrupted by family demands, a different physical place to think, imagine, create…I know from my coachees there are huge gains in being home and time saved in travel but many are missing the headspace a commute brings and the defined work identity and location.

5. Career and professional development can happen when we are in regular contact with colleagues and wider teams, learning more holistically in the day-to-day and bringing our own skills and learning to others

We don’t need all the above all the time. And as we juggle wider life commitments we can thrive in all our roles if we get some balance.

Getting clear on where you need/want to be - and when - to do the varied aspects of your work is the first step towards building sustainable work-life integration. And it’s going to be different for everyone.

Happy new year!

Oh and if Racket or audio is your thing, check out my conversation on all this with Iole Matthews….


Emma Willars, Coaching & Development 
Emma designs and hosts Work+Family Live events alongside her coaching work for Bright Horizons and others.