Throughout the last few months I keep hearing ‘we won’t need offices in the future’ or similar bold statements! It’s a topic of conversation that has been forced upon us all during the pandemic (I am refusing to use everyone’s favourite new phrase ‘unprecedented times’ in this piece). I’ve discussed it at home with family, colleagues, co-workers, clients + business/industry friends – with varying responses. It cropped up most recently on a virtual round table discussion with our pals at Downtown in Business joined also by a few other partners/members, which motivated me to throw a few words onto social media. I start this discussion piece as a tenant + business owner more so than being focused on what Project Four do for a living (day to day)…working on the refurbishment, new build + mixed use commercial office spaces as part of our core business, though the two predicaments/items may cross over.

Taking the positives – this horrendous virus has forced us to #WFH + restricted many from getting to their offices. I was fortunate enough to be able to get access to our office intermittently during the lock-down but the #WFH has raised some worthwhile questions over my work life balance and how #WFH would (in parts) improve the work life balance! I for one have embraced the opportunity to spend time with my young family + I am keen to maintain that time as we progress towards a return to our day to day lives, without lock-down restrictions. The positives aside, I am desperate (as are my colleagues) to get back to some face to face interaction. As good as Teams/Zoom have been during these times – it doesn’t build/promote team work + build effective relationships!

I understand and fully appreciate the impact of the pandemic will give us all cause to question, reflect, assess our working spaces and I believe we will see the evolution of commercial space, and our overall approach to our work life balance. And based on the evidence we have observed from the construction sites we managed + supported throughout the lock-down, commercial office space will have to improve the standards on offer also, both in the short + longer term to give tenants the confidence to return. However, as we start to re-occupy our office (very slowly) with much reduced capacity I am positive that we will return as a team and use the office to bond, socialise, learn, share knowledge/experiences and play darts – to name a few of the positives. As a business we recruit and develop graduates/trainees – and despite tools such as Zoom + Teams you can’t get the same interaction + relationships with colleagues as you do when face to face. Face to face interaction is essential for everyone, and even if #WFH has been fantastic for you during the lock-down – we still need that face to face interaction. Bearing in mind we have started new staff remotely and undertaken appraisals virtually while #WFH, so we acknowledge it can play a part of our strategy moving forward.

To conclude this piece – I am confident we will soon be back playing darts (dont mention the Merseyside Derby match) + supporting our clients from our HQ at Mann Island on Liverpool Waterfront. But we now know that we can #WFH effectively and combine the two elements to further improve the work life balance. And look forward to finally announcing our plans for a new HQ in London with one of our favourite retained clients.

Thanks for reading my waffle + welcome the opportunity to further discuss on here (written on West Kirby beach – not the office ????).

TALK – What have you missed the most about the office time?

CHAT – Will you / your business change or relocate the office as a result of the pandemic?

DISCUSS – Did you #WFH before lock-down? Will that likely or unlikely increase in the future?

ASK – Could you operate without an office?