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Is the office still relevant in 2021?

The short answer to that question if you were asking us would be: yes, the office is still very much relevant in 2021. However, that wouldn’t make for very exciting reading now would it? So, grab yourself a brew and allow us to expand on why the experts here at Penketh Group believe the workplace to still be a pivotal part of day-to-day life – perhaps even now more than ever.

If, once you’ve finished reading, you want to discuss further with one of our experts, or if you want to find out more about our office design, fit out and refurbishment services, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The benefits of having a physical office to go to

For us, the list is endless so to keep things short and sweet – because you’ve no doubt got lots to be getting on with – we’ve listed just some of the main reasons why we believe the physical workspace still has a major part to play…

A great way to consolidate company culture

We are very much of the opinion that the office is way more than just a commute destination and a place to work. The office is also about shared experiences, relationship-building and personal development – all of which are supported by a great company culture.

Fostering a positive and inspiring company culture isn’t impossible with a remote working structure but in-person interaction is an undeniable force. Sharing a physical workspace is an effective way to encourage cross-hierarchy and cross-team communication – another instrumental factor in nurturing a positive employee experience.

How social workspaces can help boost productivity and collaboration

Tangible human connection

Towards the end of 2020, we ran a series of Staff Spotlight blog posts to catch up with the Penketh Group team and see what they were missing most about life in the office. The response was unanimous: the people.

Sharing a workspace and being in the office – even if it’s just for a portion of the week – facilities tangible connection and the kind of in-person interaction that builds relationships and breeds ideas. It allows the benefits of body language, eye contact and tone of voice to take hold in a way that they can’t via video conference or over-the-phone meetings.

“After so long working remotely, returning to the office is going to be so refreshing! For social reasons as well as to be able to collaborate in person again. Video calls are great, and not having to commute is a gift but for most people, having the option to go into the purpose-built environment of their office with their colleagues and interact in real life, is something that we might not take for granted as much as we did before.” – Shelley Hatton (Interior Designer, Penketh Group)

Face-to-face collaboration

One of the benefits we feel most passionately is how in-person interaction and sharing a physical workspace catalyses collaboration and idea-sharing. This then extends into other crucial factors like socialisation and developing mentor-style bonds with peers.

Not only that, the physical workspace also acts a central hub for greeting and hosting clients and customers, and building that face-to-face rapport. Of course, this can be done – and has been done – successfully via digital means and the way in which technology opens up new doors is not something that should ever be overlooked. However – although hand shakes might be a thing of the past – we believe that in-person communication still carries a significant amount of value.


“Historians believe that the cognitive revolution circa 70,000 years ago owed a lot to our ability to create social alliances. Our jump to the top of the food chain was the direct result of our ability to communicate, organise and bounce ideas of each other. In others words, humans evolved the ability to collaborate like no other creature on earth.

“Fast forward 70,000 years and this is still the driving force in our success. Working from home is naturally alien to us. Biologically we have evolved to be free-roaming social creatures that depend on each other. The office is our camp fire, our basecamp where we come together, regroup and where we evolve.”– Steve Patterson (Head of Design, Penketh Group)

Modern waiting room design ideas

More ergonomic working postures

For anybody who has been working from home for an extended period over the last 12 months, you’ll appreciate the physical and mental damage that can be done if your workspace isn’t set up properly.

Hunched over laptops, chairs which don’t offer support, working from the sofa – these are all challenges that come with the WFH territory and which can lead to long-term effects on posture, joints, muscles and mental health. The office is an ideal way for employees to access to a choice of work settings and ergonomic furniture throughout the day to support a variety of different natural postures.

Steelcase Global Posture stidy new postures which informed the design of the Gesture chair

Better work/life balance

Not only does the office enhance comfort and support more efficient collaboration, it also encourages a healthier work/life balance. When working from home, it can be all too tempting to merge the professional and private life – sometimes without boundary.

The office provides parameters around working hours and working locations so that you can physically and mentally distinguish between when it’s time to knuckle down and when it’s time to kick back.

The world is in a pivotal state of flux, including the working world. Although we’re beginning to make educated and probable predictions, the future still has a few question marks hanging over it when it comes to redefining the workplace as we once knew it.

Will the pre-pandemic office now take a back seat in favour of remote working and activity-based approaches? Or will the lack of social interaction, collaboration and the small joys of sharing a workspace now make employees want to seek them out more than ever, leading to an office renaissance?

Our money is on the latter but of course, it’s up to you to draw your own conclusions. If you fancy sharing your thoughts with us, come and join us over on social media using the buttons below.

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