Every new difficulty that besets the process of getting into work is followed by a wave of media obituaries for the office. Be it snow, congestion or rail strikes it is surely only a matter of time before we’re each individually cocooned at home during the day, linked by phones and screens.
Sure enough, the recent cold snap was used to highlight the benefits of snuggling down at home and getting the laptop out. And yet, each day some 25 million of us still go through the rigmarole of physically going to work whereas only 691,000 employees actually work from home. Of course, for many people who work in retail and manufacturing home working is impossible. But even those who might have the choice still go to an office to work.
There are good reasons for this. Managers often prefer to have people at work. Employers worry about productivity, data sensitivity, company identity, teamworking and objectives. Employees worry that people think they are skiving, miss the routine and their colleagues. Many simply like getting out of the house.
All of these factors have one thing in common. They are based on our need for society, identity and certainty. Things are changing, but the office will always be with us in one form or another, because we’re only human.