By: Edd Brookes
Head of Middle East
Cushman & Wakefield
How many reports have we all read regarding life Post-Covid! Phrases such as “The New Normal” and “Life After Lockdown” seem to have some brave new world feel about them and correspondingly, I have read article after article about how life in the commercial office will never return to how we all remember them – where colleagues would gather around the water cooler or coffee machine to catch up on who did what over the weekend – and indeed more work related topics; that there would never be more than 30% of staff back in the office at anyone time, and those that did come in would be surrounded by wrap around Perspex partitions to compliment their face mask and visor.
One thing I have learned during the last 12 months is that no one single expert seems to have a better Crystal Ball than “Joe Public”. After all, despite all the automated algorithms and futurists, none of the chaos during 2020 was predicted.
People are by nature sociable creatures of habit. Whilst the concept as an office as we would recognise it , an administrative hub often remote from the main core of a business, developed during the 19 century when telegraphs and early telephones allowed for a concentration of administrative workers group together , away from the main business – such as in the case of mills, railway design and installation and manufacturing – whilst the employer benefited from the economies of grouping workers together, the employees also gained through the mental well being of working in social groups, through exchanging information and the inevitable office banter!
Whilst it is likely that long distance travel will be curtailed in favour of Zoom and MS Team meetings, this will be more due to the cost and time effectiveness of travelling as opposed to the fact that meetings are more successful over the internet – which in my view they are not; in my experience important deal achieving breakthroughs are gained during the all-important coffee break out sessions; when a spirit of conviviality and empathy is likely to be achieved.
I found myself working from home for five months last year, whilst waiting for Hamad Airport to reopen to Residents. I found this incredibly difficult – being remote from colleagues, managing different time zones, realising that a dining room chair is no substitute for an office chair and of course being interrupted by my mother (and occasionally her dog, whilst presenting webinars!).
Above all I found it arduous to maintain a daily routine– should one wear business attire even if you know you are unlikely to actually “see” anyone on a particular day? I found that work shoes were the key and also keeping to strict schedules built around meetings and meal times.
However – like many of us I’m sure, if it has taught me one thing – there is nothing wrong with longing to get back to the “old normal” – catching up with colleagues , bouncing ideas around, preparing a desk for a coworkers birthday! With the roll out of the vaccines, and everyone being taking that little extra care with proper hygiene no doubt we will all be there soon!
This article was published as part of the fifth edition of Property Finder Qatar’s Trends Report