Why my love affair with WFH is over …

It’s two years since workers in the UK were asked to work from home.  Here, Ruth Shearn explains why she’s ready to work from the office …

The pandemic has proven the power of technology, and it’s become clear that people can work perfectly well from home.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve loved being able to check my emails in bed before sidling to the kitchen table in my scruffs, with top-half changes for Teams calls with clients.

Until recently, I thought this love affair with WFH would last forever. That was until my colleagues and I started returning to the office by degrees a few weeks ago.

The return has proven something that everyone instinctively knows but some are still denying.

We humans are social animals.

We spontaneously form groups of associates throughout our lives – finding play mates, joining clubs, congregating at school gates, meeting in pubs and playing in teams. Most of us also form strong and meaningful attachments with work colleagues.

Working in isolation at home deprives us of these enjoyable and valuable bonds.

There are other reasons why ‘being in the room’ (literally) with colleagues is so important, especially to those of us in the creative industries.

We rely on frequent brainstorms to generate ideas. Physical proximity really does create a buzz and enables people to bounce off each other – remember those physics lessons where you learned about molecules vibrating off each other!

Continuing in this scientific vein …

How on earth are younger people starting new jobs going to pick up essential softer/life skills unless they are ‘in the room’ with more experienced colleagues?

Dealing with awkward clients (yes, they do exist!); delivering compelling presentations; handling awkward colleagues (yes, they exist, too) and a whole host of other skills can’t be taught remotely. They are acquired through a process of osmosis (my physics teacher would be proud or is that chemistry?).

We need wide social interaction. It’s how we exchange ideas, knowledge and wisdom. It’s how we learn empathy and understanding. It’s how we gain experience.

These complex factors outweigh the benefits of working in isolation at home, no matter how comfortable and convenient that might feel.