The pandemic isn’t over yet but the director of a think tank proclaimed this week that there will be a “bounceback” of the old routine of five days in the office.
Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at Centre for Cities, told The Guardian: “In the next two years, the standard working pattern will probably be three to four days a week in the office, but then you’ll see a creep, a bounceback.”
The reason, he says, is because “if someone is working in the office on a Monday and someone else is in on a Tuesday, you’re starting to miss interactions.”
Putting aside the fact that the think tank is all about promoting economically thriving cities – which relies on office workers – his proposition did make me wonder whether there will be a return to the same rigidity.
In bigger companies, people tend to work and stay within their own teams, which realistically means that as long as the entire team is in the office at the same time, no one is missing out, especially when you have meetings to keep everyone connected.
For smaller companies, not having to pay for a permanent office is also a huge boost to finances.
There may be a drop in social cohesion, but this can surely be addressed outside of the office?
For many people, it’s been over a year since they’ve last been in the office.
The longer this is, the stronger the reluctance to return to the old ways of working because you develop new routines and habits.
This is especially true if the only argument for going back to the office is that it’s what’s always been done, rather than that it’s better than the alternatives.
I’m inclined to think that Wired’s assessment of post-pandemic office life is more realistic: that employers are getting rid of the “fun” perks to introduce the ones that really matter, like pensions and healthcare.
And that there will be greater freedom and flexibility.