At AMS, my colleagues and I have been enjoying getting back to the office. It might only be 1 day a week or month, or it might be a quarterly visit to the office of one of our customers, but there is an overwhelming sense of “getting back to normal”.
For me personally, I am enjoying it. I am a sociable person and have missed the human interaction you get in the workplace. I joined AMS during lockdown and it’s only in recent months that I have been able to meet my colleagues in person for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, being able to engage via MS Teams has been a blessing but there is no amount of video calls that can make up for an over the desk conversation, or a chat whilst making a cuppa to really get to know the people you are working with on a personal level. This part of returning to the office has been important to me.
However, there are still 36% of UK employees still working from home; this is not much of an improvement on the 47% of employees working from home in April 2020.
There are a few theories as to why this shift has been so slow – the commute time and cost, childcare issues, looking after “lockdown pets”, the feeling of better productivity working from home or simply that the office may have been closed during the pandemic and therefore there is no office to go to. But there might be one thing we had not considered.
People simply might not want to wear the once formal work attire of restrictive suits and uncomfortable shoes.
Just last week whilst in the office with colleagues we were discussing “office attire”. We all acknowledged that what people wear to the office has seen an overhaul since lockdown and we are seeing more people reflecting their individual style in more comfortable work clothes. I feel lucky to work for a company that has truly embraced this.
However, could this be a stumbling block to others returning to the office? Maybe it’s not just the comfort of the clothes, it could also be the cost of a new suit or work outfit that is deterring individuals from returning.
Whatever the reason it’s clear that there is still some way to go if businesses want to get people back to the office and it would be savvy business leaders who go out and engage with their employees and understand what it is that they want and that would make them come back to the office.
It might be advocating the ditching of a rigid dress code for something flexible that reflects the business needs of the situation.