The Office: The Death of Water-Cooler Chatter?

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Another day, another blog post from your favourite samurais. Today, another blog post about working away from the office. The last time we talked about working from home, it was working remotely without trust issues, back in March. Oh, how things have changed since then.

Well, from the age of eighteen, when I graduated from high school, I was adopted into a thriving office atmosphere, filled with ‘water-cooler chatter’ (that I admittedly wasn’t all that good at) and talking to different staff from my wheely desk chair. After that gig, my next office was really hot, not as friendly but still rife with the same office tropes. Joining Samurai, my office life before COVID was full of light-hearted banter and coffee-making shenanigans. So, it’s safe to say, for the two long years I’ve been a part of the working world, offices have been a big part of the job. So what are the pros and cons of remote working?

Cons of Working Remotely

  • Health habits: working in the kitchen (by the fridge) or in the bedroom (on the bed) are incredibly dangerous when people aren’t there to persuade you that dinner is only a couple of hours away or that you probably shouldn’t have an impromptu nap at three o’clock in the afternoon.
  • Unreliable electronics: without an industrial-grade wi-fi connection, everyone can agree that working remotely can be even more stressful when the internet goes down and you can’t keep your boss in the loop.
  • Isolation and mental health: especially at the moment, face-to-face contact is rare and that can have severe adverse effects on peoples’ mental health.
  • Distraction central: unless you’ve fun-proofed your house, your home is probably infested with tempting distractions. For me, that could be playing Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath that dropped today, baking some tasty biscuits or taking a nap with my shibe plushie.

Pros of Being Out of the Office

  • Custom office: which office in the world can you work from a beanbag chair, blast out some Steely Dan and look out to a lovely, well-maintained garden?
  • Environmental repairs: without 3,900,000 people driving or catching the bus or train to work everyday, air pollution levels have dropped dramatically.
  • Cha-ching: between £1600 and £5300 are being saved by people who work from home as they pay for less gas, car maintenance, parking fees, lunch and so much more.
  • Time saver: with less time spent in traffic jams and waiting for public transport, people can do things before work without waking up at the crack of dawn. Have a lie-in, cook yourself some breakfast or put some laundry in.

So what does the future hold? What might a ‘new normal’ look like? With most meetings taking place online and staff having ready access to home-based tech, is there a future for the old office? Perhaps the ‘new normal’ requires a rethink – a ‘new office’?

If the experience of the last three months has taught us one thing, it’s that social interaction is a vital part of both work and play. I believe that, once COVID has become a thing of the past, it would be good to meet up with people from the office once every month or so. Rent out a presentation room in a hotel and, for the first half of the day, talk shop. Everyone gives a short presentation about what they’ve been up to, everyone has lunch and then you spend the last few hours together doing something to strengthen the bonds of the team. You could try laser-tag, bowling, karaoke, etc. That way, everyone’s caught up on work, you’ve had some human interaction, you’ve been active and you’ve strengthened your bonds with the team. That sounds like a good plan to me.

“But Charlie,” you may be saying. “What does this have to do with cyber security?” And I’ll tell you.

When not in a controlled, working environment, individuals and companies have to learn to become more diligent regarding their home/office cyber security policies. This is because, in an office, there are always people to hand, ready to help but, while working remotely, there is always the possibility of a breach, especially when using your own equipment. So, while working from home, everyone should be aware of cyber security and, if offices are going to become a less common staple of adult life, more people should be educated in it.

But, we’re not out of the woods just yet so, for now, stay safe and maybe scratch up some learning on cyber security. Sounds like you might need it.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact the Samurai team here.

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