The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we work, with the rise of home-working raising vital questions about the traditional office environment. What is the function of the physical office post-Covid, and how can employers entice their workforce to leave the comfort of their homes to come and sit at a desk? Is it simply a case of offering workers more flexibility?

Here, Nottingham property expert Sunny Landa MRICS explains why coming into the office should be a personal choice, not a professional obligation – and why it’s best not to force it.

The office environment shouldn’t be a forced thing. It should be so inspiring that it lures you in.

Working from home might suit a lot of people, but it will probably never serve as a wholesale replacement for the traditional office.

Here, it’s useful to think in terms of BC (before Covid) and AC (after Covid). Too many employers have failed to adapt to AC. Some believe that, in time, working from home will fade away and things will go back to business as usual.

This simply isn’t the case.

The world has turned on its axis, and employees are increasingly demanding hybrid working solutions. The BC market is now an AC market, so it’s important for bosses not to adopt a one-size-fits-all mentality. They need to give their staff a reason to come in that goes beyond a basic sense of duty.

Companies need consider the mental, physical, social and spiritual needs of their workforce. Coming into work shouldn’t feel like a professional obligation – it should be a choice that people willingly and gladly make. Staff, and especially younger people, should feel compelled to come in.

So, how do we inspire them to do that?

It’s not just about giving people the flexibility to work from home now and again. Rather, work in the AC context should be based around a different, more relaxed set of conventions.

Like to wear a suit and tie to work? Great. But it shouldn’t be a requirement. It shouldn’t feel like a millstone or a hoop you need to jump through to please the boss. First and foremost, we need to liberate the office environment from outmoded ways of thinking. Post-Covid, stuff like that won’t wash.

The office environments we create need to be premised on connection, collaboration and comfort. They should be a place where people feel personally as well as professionally fulfilled.

And of course, they must be 100% inclusive. If your PA comes in and they’re not given anywhere to sit, consider how that will make them feel. By taking individuals’ needs into account, whatever their role is in the business, bosses might just find that productivity increases.

We can make our workplaces more tech-orientated, too. Again, it’s all about empowering people to work in ways they feel comfortable with and giving them the tools they need to work harmoniously.

On a practical level, we need a sustainable real estate platform of localised and accessible workplaces. Getting to work should be easy. It needn’t be a trial. Organisations which have adapted to the post-Covid landscape have been spreading their workforces across a network of regional offices and finding that resilience is increasing across the team.

That’s just one solution, of course. It might not work for smaller businesses. As property professionals we need to think carefully about how to create a plentiful supply of offices that are suited to the needs of a diverse workforce.

We live in a different world now, so let’s not force things. Are you ready to be inspired?