Our Director of Engagement, Gillian Jackson, reflects on the nature of working in 2022, exploring the takeaways the pandemic has had on “office culture”.

As we enter into another pandemic affected year with many of us working from home it is becoming increasingly harder to remember a life before it. As the pandemic recedes, we know that work life will never be the same, and although offices may survive, desks may look somewhat different.

The New Yorker reported that tech entrepreneur Chris Herd gained a devoted following during the pandemic by advocating for alternatives to working in an office. He set up a tech company just before the pandemic started, and benefitted from a remote model. Yet, interestingly, he saw the benefit of his teams meeting face to face to collaborate and work together.

The pandemic has shown that your location should enhance your work; for me; crunching numbers and writing reports and articles such as this one, is optimised from working at my kitchen table – carving out some time during the week to put a wash on is an effective way to use a ten minute break, while workshops, brainstorming meetings are best done in person. But should the “in person” part be limited to your workspace?

People need spaces to share ideas, debate, discover and enjoy human connection as it can be rare these days to meet and interact with strangers. The benefit of working in a communal space is the ability to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t meet. Part of this comes from working alongside new people every day, but also elements of a community are built into members clubs such as House of St Barnabas.

Places can help us bond and find common ground, through a shared love of culture; by creating a space to unify people, we have an opportunity to break down barriers and have a conversation that helps to change perception or spark an idea.

Recent research shows the significance of small, seemingly irrelevant interactions on our sense of belonging and reduction of loneliness. That friendly conversation with Jackie; our Floor Supervisor, or Gigi; our barista, can scientifically help happiness. These interactions are the fabric that binds coworking communities together, and everyone – from the person greeting you as you arrive, to the person sitting at the hot desk next to you – adds to this sense of belonging. You will find that inspiration flows in an energetic environment when you are stimulated with new people, scenes and ideas.

And flexible working should be exactly this – flexible. A hybrid blend of home, office and a shared workspace should meet your productivity with the right location and opportunity. From the early morning meeting flurry, to the 3pm coffee and cake slump, your focus and energy levels naturally fluctuate during the workday – and offering greater variety of environments should accommodate this.

To celebrate flexible working – this January we’re offering no joining fee for those of your friends and colleagues that want to join – email us with the subject title “FlexFeb” to redeem.