In the spring of 2020, thousands of companies and their employees found themselves scrambling to continue business while working from home or in other remote set-ups. For many, this “new normal” was a breath of fresh air, and these set-ups worked well. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
But are there advantages of working in an office? And are we missing out on anything truly vital by logging in to work every day from the comfort of our homes?
The answer is a resounding yes to both questions. There are quite a few science-backed benefits of working from an office — we highlight seven of them below.
Water cooler chat
There’s something to be said for taking a quick break from work and heading to the water cooler, break room, or staff kitchen to grab a drink and a snack. You may find yourself chatting up a coworker or two along the way to discuss hobbies or outside interests. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s desirable.
This informal “water cooler chat” builds a positive company culture and improves employee engagement, and research indicates that employee engagement and employee retention are directly correlated. Relaxed chat among workers increases employees’ comfort at work, and opens up lines of communication. The casual facetime (not to be confused with Facetime) it offers with management and colleagues encourages informal collaboration. And the simple act of getting up and moving around promotes physical health as well.
Having a formal workspace
The physical space that you are in can have a huge impact on your productivity and focus. Assuming your normal workspace is in an office, you probably wouldn’t get any work done while sitting in a daycare or in a darkly lit room with no windows. This extends to the equipment we use for our jobs as well. Companies invest in these things to keep employees engaged, alert, and focused, for good reason.
Formal offices are usually more comfortable than our work-from-home or remote-working set-ups. They are designed to promote productivity. Everything from soothing lighting, to comfortable desks and chairs, to the computers and software we use is chosen specifically to help us get our work done. Not only that, these spaces are plagued by fewer distractions. You’re less likely to be interrupted by a child, pet, or delivery while at the office.
Leaving work at work
Sometimes it can be difficult to stop your brain from thinking about work. We are hard-wired to continue focusing on unfinished tasks. When that unfinished task is a work task, it becomes very easy to bring the anxiety associated with it home.
But this isn’t good for you or your company. Research has shown that the inability to disconnect from work and recuperate leads to burnout, higher turnover, and lower productivity. How much harder is it not to “bring your work home” when you work from home? The simple act of getting up from your desk at the office and heading home goes a long way toward helping you avoid this.
Working around others is motivating
Staying focused on tasks is a challenge for even the most disciplined worker. How much harder is it when the only person around to hold us accountable is ourselves? But when we are surrounded by others also focusing on their individual tasks it motivates us to focus and get our own work done as well.
It’s even better when you are around others working on the same project or tasks. A little healthy competition among co-workers never hurts. But whether you are working on the same project or not, having your co-workers nearby is a major benefit of working in the office.
Facetime with supervisors and mentors
Whether they have a formal or informal mentorship structure, it’s undeniably important for companies to foster mentorship. A strong mentorship program promotes an inquisitive culture within your company where mistakes are corrected and learned from. Mentored employees feel empowered and, after some time, are able to problem-solve independently.
The problem with a work-from-home or remote-work set-up is mentorship becomes harder to foster. Informal mentorship is almost impossible. You can’t pop into your boss’s office or turn to the more senior co-worker next to you to ask a quick question. And even formal mentorship can feel stiff and forced in a remote setting in ways that a collaborative, in-office mentorship program doesn’t.
Employees have the ability to keep learning
There’s no substitute for experience. From tricks-of-the-trade and new industry standards to internal company procedures (or even something as simple as where the backup toner is), employees that keep up to date with their skills and knowledge are irreplaceable. But skills and knowledge aren’t acquired through magic. They must be learned.
As an employee, you want to keep learning. Staying curious in your job helps you remain relevant. It makes you adaptable and creative when it comes to problem-solving. It keeps you engaged in your work and is good for your mental health. A shared workspace with your co-workers promotes an environment where learning is encouraged.
Creative collaboration is easier
Collaboration is a buzzword for a reason. Two heads are better than one. And open communication among employees leads to better outcomes and creative problem-solving. Different employees bring different backgrounds, areas of expertise, and skills. These varied perspectives can open up possibilities that a person working alone never would have considered.
Communication silos are a major issue when you and your co-workers work remotely. The lack of in-person meetings and conversation takes a toll on employees’ willingness to propose ideas and solutions. And it entirely removes the possibility of informal, on-the-fly conversations that might yield collaborative gold.
The benefits of working in the office are clear.
The convenience of remote work cannot be denied. And for some employees and companies, it may be the right choice.
However, the advantages of an in-office culture are also well-studied. Whether you find yourself in a hybrid-working situation or heading into the office every day, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about going to work.
At Granite Logistics, we foster a positive, in-office working environment that allows for a healthy work-life balance, nurturing mentorship, and the cultivation of a collaborative growth mindset. If you’re interested in being a member of our team, check out our current openings.