09 December 2022

“Love affair with the office” – did I get this right?

“Love affair with the office” –<strong> did I get this right?</strong>

Indeed: “Our new love affair with the office is a step towards a better philosophy of work”. That’s a headline in The Guardian on December 4. The columnist, Will Hutton says WFH is fast losing its allure for many. All of a sudden it appears that many are glad to get out of the clutches of Zoom & Co., their little flat or shared house. They were starting to feel lonely and isolated. Statistics show that one profession that’s doing well are psychiatrists.

On top of that it’s now very costly trying to keeping warm at home.

But it’s not all negative reasons. Mr. Hutton says, reassuringly, that many people are finding it “fun and refreshing” to be at work surrounded by other people (anyone disagrees?)

Even more surprising: The daily commute is becoming fashionable, especially for the young. In London, we are told, busses and the underground are full of people eager to get to work; apparently the figures are up to 75% and 80% of pre-pandemic levels, and cycling to work is ever so popular as well. Looks to me like the commute from the bedroom to the kitchen table has definitely lost its allure, and some people are keen on pedalling.

Can we conclude from this that even digital natives don’t want to restrict their social life to the online community, but instead like to get out and get a breath of fresh air, in what the rest of us call the “real world”. These youngsters are truly multi-tasking and multi-functional: they seamlessly integrate WhatsApp, blogs and online discussions with personal interactions. They’re not mutually exclusive.

“Stories abound”, according to Mr. Hutton, “of young people moving jobs not because they want to work from home, but because they want to work in workplaces populated by other staff”. What is clear though is that generation Z has different expectations, a different view of the world, and certainly of working. They are motivated by different things, self-fulfilment has moved a long way up on their wish list, as have a good working atmosphere, and particularly, life-work balance, which is often cited as more important than professional promotion, or responsibilities, even pay.

One of the most important conclusions I draw from the article is that it is not the obsession by employers with presenteeism that drives them to want to have their employees physically in the office space. Instead it is their belief that team work is hugely important, and the ability to share ideas, and to learn from others, will benefit everyone – the employees and the company.

At the same time, there is no use denying that as a consequence of the long lockdown period many people have come to expect or wish for more flexibility, i.e. the option to work at home some of the time.

In that respect, we translators, transcreators, copywriters can count ourselves lucky. We are privileged in the sense that unlike those working in basic and essential sectors like hospitals, supermarkets, construction sites, hairdressers and dentists, it is feasible for us to work at home occasionally, perhaps one or two days a week.

That’s what we are trying at Alpha, and we’re keen to see if that makes for a good and successful work environment – and happy and contented employees. There are some encouraging signs, laughter being one of them, and people going to the pub together.

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