To protect employees from the more negative aspects of working from home or the potential opportunities they miss, the Government could set up local work-desks. These would essentially be offices that the Government provides with available work space campuses for people to book out.
This would first and foremost assist people who don’t have the ability to work from home and are as such excluded from the job market. They would be provided with desk space to work as well as adequate facilities like computers, webcams, printers, telephones, etc. These are already all available with standard local libraries, but these would just be an extension to boost the work of working individuals.
These spaces may also solve the lack of social interaction with remote working by allowing people to still engage and meet other people at their workplace and could be crucial in solving the problems or loneliness and mental wellbeing. Furthermore, with a variety of different people working in the office with different companies and different industries, we could perhaps see greater collaboration among these different firms and industries. Simply by talking to each other at the coffee machines, individuals who may have never otherwise come into contact with each other may end up realising how the polar opposite things they are respectively working on, can instead be linked together to create the next world-changing idea. If not a revolution in ideas, the spaces could simply boost productivity for the individual working there, with an environment in which they can thoroughly focus, properly attend virtual meetings and have the equipment to do their work. It would make it easier for someone to ask someone else for help with a certain blockage or for someone to copy someone else’s work style that they think is particularly effective. These would all help to boost productivity within British businesses which have been on the back foot since the 2008 recession and have been hampered further by the COVID crisis.
The office spaces themselves could also be tailored to different individuals and their working styles. While some are fans of the modern, open plan office spaces with furniture lying around to promote interaction and pool tables and table tennis tables to allow for cooldowns when working. Others, may prefer the more traditional office space, with well allocated and neatly aligned desk space or designated individual cabins. The office space the government sets up could have a variety of these in each campus so that people can chose which they prefer and which they think they would be more effective in. This prevents the culture clash seen in many offices today where some prefer one to the other but there are wholesale changes to either side. If these office campuses are super-sized they could perhaps have these different layouts on different floors. Alternatively, there could be different offices at different locations with different layouts. For example, a campus based in Shoreditch could be of the more modern format, but a few miles away in Canary Wharf there could be a more traditional office. Perhaps, these campuses could come with healthcare arrangements or other services like gyms which are increasingly seen in offices, which would all help to make working more efficient.
These initiatives are already being championed by the private sector with companies like HubbleHQ, but the Government could step in to create a more inclusive job market to extend current support such as that provided by libraries already.