WFH v. the office, what’s the best solution?

By Ben Goode, LSI Architects

The end of March will mark two years since we began the first Covid lockdown and most people were ordered to work from home (WFH), only leaving their homes for essential reasons.
Published in Norfolk Director magazine, Spring | Summer 2022
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Life Touching Design: LSI Architects

For many business leaders this presented the biggest challenge of their working lives. With their teams suddenly spread disparately across the region, they were left worrying how they could ‘keep the show on the road’.

At LSI Architects we counted our blessings, as our commitment to flexible working was already well established and meant that we had a significant infrastructure and culture in place that promoted and supported remote working. For us this undoubtedly helped to make the transition to working exclusively from home a relatively smooth process.

However, as we are now learning to live with the virus and restrictions are lifted, thoughts are now turning to what the post-covid office environment might look like. The big question is, do businesses need to return to the office at all? Or at least, should they downsize to take advantage of the cost savings that could be made from needing less floor space?

We have been giving a lot of thought to what the cost implications might be to our business if we no longer had the majority of our team in the office for most of the time?

Nurturing home grown talent

Creating opportunities for our people to work flexibly is important to us, and the accelerated adoption and use of virtual technologies due to the pandemic has allowed this to happen more quickly than anticipated. Yet WFH has thrown up another dilemma; is where our teams work impacting their learning and professional development?

Our strategy in relation to employment and development is to ‘grow our own’. This means we recruit, almost exclusively, people at the beginning of their careers. We consider ourselves to be a ‘training practice’.

With this philosophy, it’s vital that we develop all people in all areas of our business, and even with those that are WFH, we continue to invest heavily in their training and development. However, it is the extended periods of having our teams WFH that has led to our realisation of how much learning and development happens simply from having our teams in the office, together.

Understanding what our teams think

We have just sent out our seventh ‘working from home’ survey to understand how our teams feel about returning to the office. What we know though, is that when our less experienced team members are in an office environment working alongside our more experienced team members, then significant learning follows. The environment encourages questioning and listening into conversations; there is also a benefit to having somebody there who can occasionally look over a shoulder and offer some advice.

We have reflected on the fact that the collaborative culture an office environment provides is how many young architects, technologists and professionals have become great at what they do. Whilst we are not mandating they must come in, we are encouraging our younger team members to consider the learning they might be missing out on from not being in the office. We are also asking our more experienced professionals to consider what they can offer our younger employees to benefit their development – in the same way that they themselves have benefitted from the experience they gained from those that came before them.

So, overall, whilst we will always offer flexibility to our teams in terms of where they work, we believe that we are better when we are together.

WFH v. the office, what’s the best solution? 1

Ben Goode is CEO at LSI Architects.
T: 01603 660711
E: norwich@lsiarchitects.co.uk
or visit lsiarchitects.co.uk

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LIFE TOUCHING DESIGN

LSI Architects is an AJ100, award winning architectural practice based in London and Norwich. For more information…

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