On the work spectrum: occupied still with the office

importance of physical office space

The ways of working of the world has been constantly evolving and advancing, much like the times themselves and so it is no wonder that the many adaptations that the working conditions have come to encompass over the years allude to in fact the dynamic essence of the world itself. Work invariably makes up a dominant proportion of what we spend our life’s time on, guided by motives of the financial and the occupation though residing still in other realms of thought, and much like all other spheres of existence that has been witness to a sea of changes in conformity with the changing tides of time, workspaces have also come to embody this necessity of evolution. And while scenarios have been ever adaptive to evolutions and revolutions, embracing full well the newer demands of them in some cases and resisting them in others but having to yield into the nativities any way, the induced mode of what has been driving diversities in behavior, either of the physical or the psychological, in the current times has been largely unprecedented both in intensity and in the dramatic nature of them.

The effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on human lives is tremendous and even with concerns going beyond mortality and stuff, this impact has emerged to be one that has driven a whole world of changes in the ambits of the human existence in a manner that can be attributed as another evolutionary dimension in the continuity of the human race. Particularly poignant has been the dictums of work that have seen an overhaul, perhaps one long due at that as well, as organisations and institutions were forced to shift their hierarchy of power overnight, scrambling to save business and revive fortunes as they had to take what they forever regarded to be that ‘catastrophic’ decision to make remote work not just permissible and possible but also embrace it as part of the new normal. What ensured therefore in this maniacal race to survive against all the odds cast by a virus merely minuscule is a certain new way of working, one that had long been looked down upon professionally as ‘work from home’ equated for many to be not a possible route to indeed work out the interests of one’s occupation. Something that all employees had forever cherished in all their rosy anticipation and all employers had chided in unison as just another means of slacking about suddenly emerged to be the breakout trend of a time hurling a multitude of surprises one after the other.

After however more than a full year of the ‘luxury’ of working from home accruing to employees, though not of their accord, what has spanned as a realisation is that remote work can be at least as effective and functional as the daily physical office routine, making therefore this concept of having to be indeed present in person within the office space a redundant belief of what has guided productive professional behavior through the times. This also might necessarily imply a greater shift in adhering to the doctrines of professionalism from within the comfort and convenience of one’s home without putting businesses and productivity at stake, sparking thereby a notion whether the importance of a traditional office space holds still in the face of such welcome flexibilities. And while the reasonably smooth manner in which businesses and organisations have been functioning since the dawn of the corona times means indeed that the physical expanses of offices are not the most essential element of what tends to be our ‘place’ of work, a rather surprising revelation of this has been also the dignified significance that accrues still to the office, even in all its non relevance today.

Despite the multiple fantasies that the work from home provision seemed to hold at a time when it was not favored, a continuous adherence to this mode of living the professional life has dawned upon us the not really perfect nature of this arrangement. For one, the work from home option is an even greater exertion of the professional demands upon our lives with work life and personal balance even trickier to maintain in such conditions where we are expected to be on call virtually every moment for entailing the luxury of getting to avoid the commute to and physical presence in our workspace. This mode of working might also be not conducive enough for that section of the workforce who do not have adequate access to many a provisions that make remote work relatively less stressful. From the constraints of space and the non existent limits of time to unavailability of services like internet connectivity or even a less than decent network coverage and broadband speed, there are a multitude of factors that makes working from home an even greater source of stress for some of us. Specifically in these times of the pandemic where entire families are crammed into homes, work from home indeed has proved to be an exercise in futility in some cases, with workers having to deal with the pressures of professional deadlines and the inevitability of personal affairs that ends up hampering their efficiency. Interfering therefore tremendously with the productive pursuits of many a employee has been this inevitable vouching for availing the liberties of the work from home arrangement, which in fact has come to reinstate the paradoxical truth that the office space continues to be a necessity of the professional world even in its growing unpopularity.

Even beyond the convenience of the working environment that it provides, the physical expanse of the office continues to enjoy prominence still in a rather unusual facet of its identity. There is no denying the socially vibrant essence that any work space resides in, fostering a bond among colleagues and coworkers and providing therefore scope for occasional disengagement from the drab trudges of work that in fact is quite an effective routine in boosting productivity. This opportunity to connect with coworkers on a level that goes beyond the dynamics of work translate also as well into enhanced productivity specially in such cases where teamwork is necessary to make strides in business. As such, this tendency to expand beyond the rigidities of work can be seen as a necessary prerequisite for productivity which makes therefore the viability of the office space as an agent of socialising a much integral aspect of businesses. Brainstorming sessions, spontaneous collaborations, impromptu decisions all have the potential to take off from the expanse of this possibility that the office space harbours in all its encompassings of the work life and perhaps even more. A whimsical but rather psychological assertion of why working in an office bodes well for some employees is not just the many options available to them in terms of interaction and rewinding with fellow workers, something not always possible to attain in homes when you live alone or even with family members who do not necessarily resonate with the expectations of your nature of work. The rather amusing way of working of the human mind means that it can sometimes decipher solace in the knowledge of a shared (miserable) existence, which is why being in an office surrounded by people equally burdened by the pressures of a monotonous work schedule as you can be a surprising factor in which the physical validity of offices scores some extra brownie points!

A less essential but relevant still function of the physical office might be it being a marker of identity, one that lends greater credibility and visibility to an organisation, though this is a notion that has been subject to greater change for quite some time now. This traditional need for an office space might not hold as greater ground today as it tended to do in the past but there is a strong possibility that this particular purview of what a concrete space can afford in rendering offices tags like ‘established’ and substantial stuff like that can still continue to govern popular perception of its necessity for at least some time. But such changing nature of what governs the need for a physical office space being more prominent today that it had been at any time in the past, there is no doubt that the expanses of it would sure be more than ready for a revamp that would make it more conducive to cater to such demands of flexibility and convenience finding increasing resonance in every aspect of the human pursuit for a life as worthy of living as possible.

This means that changes in the typical structure of offices in all their physicality have already been worked into the realms of areas from where organisations and businesses operate and this is something that is not even exclusively a post pandemic transition. The many ways in which offices today have been moulded into to be far removed from the long standing notions of dull, drab and dreariness associated with them has in fact seen the emergence of a new trend in designing, that which is known as the resimericial design. A portmanteau of residential and commercial, this self explanatory term alludes to a concept that seeks to weave in elements of the comfort of homes and private residential spaces into the functional space of offices, creating therefore a contemporary workplace where work tends to feel quite like leisure. The concept itself is an exciting approach to work, and predates the years of the pandemic but has sure taken newer meaning in its substantiality today when returning to work without foregoing the placid, comfortable vibe of homes seems to be quite an exercise in apprehension. In its essence, what resimercial design does is create a fusion of sorts whereby the feel of the professional expanse of the office is sustained even while allowing for a more relaxed environment for work by consciously building in a variety of spaces that each caters to the varied psychological needs of different groups of workers. As a mode of bolstering the occupational principles of work and productivity, the resimercial aspects of creating an office that seems welcoming to one and all however aims to further the ‘relegated’ position accorded to physical offices today- of serving as an ‘agent’ of relationship building and providing the settings where a number of people can mingle to put forth newer ideas and devise innovative means to ensure that businesses keep moving forward even as the notions of work and productivity and professionalism themselves continue to expand the scope of in all their evolutionary adaptability.