Modern office

Source: Shutterstock/ Zastolskiy Victor

Lockdown homeworking has had a critical impact on people’s mental and physical health. Research from Oktra found that 59% were struggling to stay motivated, while 38% of respondents in a survey by Deloitte said lockdown had had a negative impact on their wellbeing.

Young people have been adversely affected, often living in shared-occupancy homes without access to separate working spaces and sorely lacking the in-person mentorship, development and networking opportunities of the office, which simply cannot be recreated on a Zoom call.

While lockdown homeworking had a critical impact on people’s wellbeing and professional development, it has also seen productivity collapse at the fastest rate on record. In Q2, output per worker fell by almost a fifth, with output per hour also declining by 2.5% between April and June this year, according to the ONS.

With so much at stake, it is clear the pandemic will not be the death of the office. But how we work is obviously evolving, with 61% of desk-based workers reporting that they would like to work from home more regularly following the pandemic.

Decentralised office space in key satellite locations, including the UK’s second cities and London’s peripheries, has a crucial part to play, providing young people with access to office space without the arduous commute, health and safety concerns or hefty financial burden of inner-city offices.

This ‘hub-and-spoke’ model can help people return to the office with confidence and help facilitate the much-needed shift to more agile working, empowering staff to work when and where they want. Many graduates and other workers starting out their careers have for too long been excluded by the steep commuting and relocation costs of some businesses’ London-centric office footprints.

So, not only can a transition to decentralised office space help to reinstate and improve a better working culture for young workers, for many it can help to create it.

Emma Long, managing director (north), BizSpace