Office Talk

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Office Talk

Tell me about your home office, I know you have one! Is it a corner of the dining room table? A TV tray in the living room? An actual room in your home dedicated to office-y things? Did you get a tiny house or one of those trendy sheds to convert to an office? Regardless of where you set up shop when you are working from home; how is it going? What are some challenges that you have encountered? What are some positive aspects of working from home? How to you keep the motivation going for yourself and your team? Whatever the set up; working “remotely” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The pandemic flipped our lives upside down and changed the way we do everything. Office work didn’t escape unscathed.

It is very interesting to see how your typical “office” environment has evolved over the years. Throughout the years, offices have been transformed based on demands of the time… open space vs. private office, interaction vs. independence, mobile vs. stationary. Here are some brief highlights from the past decade:

– “Taylorism”: Early 1900’s – American Engineer Frederick Taylor is credited with being one of the first person to design an office space. He believed in a rigid office design that placed workers crowded together in an open space while supervisors looked on from their private offices.

– “Bürolandshaft”: Mid 1900’s – The term literally translates to “office landscape”. This German based concept was created by brothers Eberhard and Wolfgang Schnelle and shifted the workspace to a more organic and natural model. Mangers were pulled out of their private offices and placed on the main floor, where plants and temporary screens were used to focus more on team productivity. Critics felt this model was very distracting and led to reduced production.

– “Cubicle Farm”: Late 1900’s – Ah, the beloved cubicle farm. Many of us today have had the blessed experience of working in a sea of cubicles. With many feeling that the previously popular “open office” landscape being a distraction and having a negative impact on employee wellbeing; the cubicle was born allowing for workers to be separated by modular walls. This method was far less expensive than private offices. This design often left workers feeling isolated and socially deprived.

– “Digital Workplace”: 2000’s – Derived from the boom, new technologies were developed to allow more mobility in the workspace. Employee well-being became a top priority in the design of the office space in the 2000’s. Natural lighting and large windows, breakout areas for team collaboration, fitness rooms are some of the concepts added to enhance the overall “health” of the company.

– Present Day – Telework, working from home (aka WFH), remote work, virtual work, hybrid, Zoom fatigue, screen time, cabin fever, isolation, social distancing, quarantine, home office. Post-pandemic lingo. New technologies and flexibility have launched us into new territory, and in some instances the corporate “office” has become a thing of the past. Or is the “office” making a comeback?

You can truly see the back-and-forth trend of interaction vs. independence over the years. Are we better together or separated? How will the office design trend change in the future? Now that we have worked successfully “remotely”, will you continue to work from home in some form? Personally, I enjoy having both options available. Currently, I work from home two days a week, and work in our “office” three days a week. This allows me to collaborate with my team in person, while still having the flexibility to work independently (Working from home = zero commute! Saving some money at the pump is always a win!). As a mother of 2, at times it can be challenging trying to focus on work while also meeting the needs of my children, I’m convinced that they require 20 meals/snacks a day which can be quite the distraction at times! Not to mention the catastrophe they manifest every time you must make a phone call. I will say however, having the flexibility to have a picnic lunch outdoors with my 3-year-old beats any in-office lunch break! There are pros and cons with every option. So, how do you “office” in 2022?

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