Wow, 2020! You game changing, tradition smashing and mind-bending beast of a year! What have you done to the world we know and how will we ever return to normal? ... what is normal now anyway? None of us really know, but like so much in life there is one thing that no one can challenge… how our perception of the old world has shifted!

Whatever that shift is for you, no one sees things the way they did before the first murmurings from Wuhan made their way to our televisions, radios, computers, tablets and smart phones. Shaking ourselves down a year or so later and still working largely from home, what becomes of the office? As the first murmurings of the office demise hit the headlines and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, proclaimed that his staff could work from home “indefinitely”, there were those amongst us, for whom the real estate business is our business, who got a little spooked!

Hypothetically, yes. This Zoom thing was the biz, the Teams icon on our Microsoft 365 platform was clicked for the first time and lo and behold it worked, almost seamlessly! Sales of VR headsets shot through the roof, watch parties and company socials could all be done remotely, document sharing, presentations, digital signatures, sales calls, team meetings, board meetings… The list goes on almost infinitely as to what we could do whilst working from home and not being together in the office! Wow this thing is real, Jack Dorsey… You got it! Who’s next?

BUT, there’s always a but, like all shiny and new things, the shine begins to fade. From break-out area chit chat and buying the cakes on your birthday, to the serious and heart-breaking stories of loneliness, mental health challenges and worse, it became clear that this was not so sustainable after all, and with that we remembered… We are human beings! We are social creatures, we are emotionally intelligent and we are often at our best when we come together to bring creative thinking and problem solving to a room; a room devoid of all technology, with a few post it notes, scribbly pens and oodles of brainpower!

Yes, the office was not dead, and we began to long for a return to the type of interaction that created the sauce that differentiated us from our competitors. We long for the time with our customers to provide game changing experiences for them that will bring a lifetime of loyalty, and perhaps most important of all, to shake a hand, make eye contact or connect on an emotional basis with a fellow human, something simply (for now) out of reach on any sort of technology!

So, what’s next? What does become of the office? Well Lockdown 2.0 aside, there is now a way out of the current reality, and it has presented the most wonderful opportunity for us all to re-evaluate how we live and importantly how we work! Our offices and workspaces present a chance to accelerate how we work, taking cognizance of all we have learned about what may have been good about our workplaces, and all that is bad. We have proven beyond reasonable doubt that we do not need to spend every waking hour in the office and equally, we understand that certain activities have much better return from being in the office; so how does this blend work?

Our view at TINTO is that workplaces can exist to be living breathing manifestations of the brands we are as businesses, and that they can bring our promises to customers to life, both in terms of delivering the “sauce” and the experience that see them grow and thrive well into the future. Imagine a space that allows your team's creativity to flow, your customers to interact with the brand, and that delivers a new proposition around the value you are adding to the community that you serve! It is the most powerful marketing tool you can hope to have. Everything about your workplace can represent your vision, mission and values, and customers can feel that on a totally different level. Think of it as an enhanced front of stage space, with slightly less back of house than the traditional office offers. Rows of desks and cubicles, replaced with meeting hubs, break-out spaces, technology points, cafés, gyms, greenery and educational type theatres. See the chance to grab the attention of your customers, and give them a total 360-degree, upside down and roundabout demonstration of your products or services…

Innovative arrangements of desking and benching can vastly reduce footprint, allowing people to “touch down” when on site, but equally work remotely, as required or as desired. Some of our best focused work is done in isolation, beyond the customers' experience, the team meeting and focus group. Let’s remove the distraction of the traditional office environment and give folks the ability to choose the space they can produce their best work in, whether that be home, coffee shop, co-working space, car, plane or train! These real pieces of detail can be so much better by allowing people to be their best in their best environments.

The day is not too far away, when we will be grabbing back our commute time, investing it in ourselves and growing as a race that understands 2020 was a "helluva" year, and remembering in all the scramble to get back together, that a little time alone is just as equal a blessing…