The ‘agile’ approach means a new equilibrium

Working from home during the lockdown has had both its upsides and downsides, but combining it with working from a central office and other remote workplaces seems the ideal mix, writes editor-in-chief Robin Marriott. 

Working from home sucks. Not every day, all day. But in general, it sucks.

I do have some experience – not just during the recent Covid-19 tribulations, but for the past four years as since 2016 I have had no office in London to work from (the HQ of PropertyEU is in the Netherlands).

I have a wired-up summer house office in my small garden, but I prefer to go out, frequently just to a local coffee shop with my laptop or to meet someone or attend a meeting.

I miss having an office though. In the office, you have a greater sense of loyalty and teamwork. Plus, when you go to the kitchen area to get a drink, impromptu ‘meetings’ happen. This is when the most creative and problem-solving conversations can occur.

At the same time, I am won over by Zoom. I can do three or four calls in a morning, whereas just one physical meeting seems to take up half a day. On Zoom, depending on the nature of the call, I sometimes keep checking emails while listening and nodding, and it seems accepted, not rude.

I guess you could say my approach to where and how I work is ‘agile’, which is a word I just stole from Olivier Estève, deputy CEO of Covivio, a major European office landlord.

In this month’s cover story on the future of the office, he says: ‘Occupiers would ideally like to have a more agile solution to safeguard the future of their business. They are looking at managing this flexibility through a mix of remote working, leasing offices, and co-working or flexible office space.’

That seems spot on to me.

He adds: ‘I think Covid will lead to a new equilibrium between these three possibilities.’ Correct.

It is one of the big real estate stories to emerge from the pandemic, isn’t it: the future of the office. Mainstream media have been all over this property story.

And maybe this is a positive we can pull out from the Covid-19 flames, which are having a devastating effect on parts of the real estate industry and the economy as a whole. The use and supply of real estate for working is now a mainstream topic. Property industry of Europe: welcome to the big time, you are no longer a fringe activity.

Robin Marriott


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