The office, not just a hilarious cross Atlantic tv show. For the record; UK one is better but the US one is way more watchable. No, the office I’m referring to is the spiritual, physical, and literal home of a business. In my misty mind’s eye, I remember our office a bit like Cheers. A place where you’re welcomed by reliable partons with a slight drinking problem who all know your name. It could be possible I’m slightly romanticizing my own office but at a time when offices in Auckland remain dormant and unused, I’m sure I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment. It’s all part of the human experience. Imagine if everyone was homeschooled, signing in and logging off from their bedrooms like the current class of students. You’d miss out on heaps! The silent disappointment in discovering your shirt resembles an early Pollock in blue ink at the end of a day, to the unbridled joy of seeing your mate get a bollocking for something you did. Education without a school is like work without an office.
We’ve done our best to keep it as ‘interactive’ as possible like a plethora of teachers will have to try and keep focus. Potentia came up with a dynamic solution for the growing isolation, a bit like Habbo Hotel in the early 2000s, without the packs of roving pedo’s. They created a virtual office that avatars can roam and on interacting with each other start a video chat. As long as no one builds a pool and then removes the ladder ala The Sims it’s a pretty innovative and cute way of keeping in touch as well as feeling that sense of community only an office can provide. We’ve also had reports of agency owners crossing a line in terms of staying in touch, a touch as unwanted as the advances from the aforementioned users of the chat room website. Allegedly, but really actually, staff of one particular agency were instructed to keep their webcam on all day! Just to ensure they were working and not taking a moment to themselves. Like a reboot of Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller starring John Stewart Rear Window this time using Windows V.11.
I wonder if how we work will be affected by this extended period of home detention? Usually, a video chat to take a brief from a new client is reserved for those across the Tazzy or down in Welly. It used to be a cardinal sin in recruitment and a question you’d fear being asked by a client – “have you even met them?” it eludes to a corner being cut. Now though I think that question is more likely to be asked by the candidate. You may have encountered it during this lockdown with momentum stalling due to a candidate expressing the desire to first come into the office, take a look around and get a sense of what it’s like. This is completely understandable. It’s a bit like those package holidays when you book the hotel only to turn up on the day to be welcomed with a ‘coming in 2023’ billboard. I often ask clients what the office is like on a Friday arvo? It gives a bit of an indication of the culture and also how many people are actually around. I’m a little unsure of agencies that have a Friday working from home, it’s the best time to express and decompress from the working week.
I know that a Friday arvo wrap-up may seem a little played out but it does provide a bit of structure and I don’t know about you, but working from home I think robs you of that structure. Especially at this point Day 52, days kind of blur into one. In a study that was admittedly from the beginning of the year so views may have changed, Otago Uni asked 2,500 Kiwis about their views on working from home; 89% said that they would want to continue or at least be part-time. Sure, a couple of days from home sound sweet but if everyone does it what does that do to culture? I’ll no doubt in the coming years have candidates coming to me asking for an agency that has more of a ‘buzz’ about it. Imagine coming back from a client lunch on a Friday, strictly lunch with a few beersies, and having to turn on the lights on arrival to log notes. Agency owners have a fine line to tread. You want to provide flexibility for sure, but not at the detriment of the atmosphere and environment of the office. It would be a bit depressing, wouldn’t it? If work culture evolved to a point post-offices making work as dull and boring as well, Post Offices.