Simon Manchipp, founder of London design agency SomeOne, explains how the benefits of returning to the office and being back in the world outweigh working from home.
Living man it’s good to be back! Face to face meetings. The reassuring squish of the Eames office chair. The warm glow of the dual monitor reflects off a good, sturdy desk that’s constantly adjusted to the right height. Without forgetting the wows of others. People you didn’t marry or conceive, but love to work with. A pitch of showing up somewhere, in stain-free clothes, in rooms almost guaranteed not to be interrupted by dogs, cats or children. Oh yeah, even Rosé’s riddled summer lockdown wasn’t so good.
Why not continue to enjoy the joys of business in your underwear? How to make the return attractive? At SomeOne we are already 99% back all week. One of the reasons this doesn’t seem to have been a barrier is that our London headquarters has always been a mix of what Rory Sutherland called in a recent return to work talk, “The Library and Bar”. .
STUDIO vs RAUCOUS
On the ground floor of Shoreditch are secluded pods, dark nooks and an enclosed library space designed for laying down with a design tome, laptop or hangover – ready to dive deep into design mistakes. mind and sneaky design systems. On the contrary, upstairs there is loud music, bright lighting, banter, arguments, occasional fights, drinks and hugs at the end of the day.
Curiously, the mix of studious and rowdy combine to create an appealing change from domestic bliss. The desire for extremes is visible everywhere in the human experience – from drugs to shopping preferences… on the one hand, an increase in anonymous online shopping – on the other: farmers markets meeting manufacturers… people like the edges not the middle.
There comes a time when you just can’t add the endless scheduling of calls to a deadline that’s already fast approaching. I doubt they could ever get a man to the moon if everyone involved connected via Zoom. You need garage engineers to make F1 win. When you’re so busy – and a lot of design companies I know are – you need to be in the room.
THREE HOURS BEFORE THE PARTY
Almost everyone over the age of 30 (and many under) has growing doubts about the merits of attending “that” party held weeks before. The sensations “3h before” mix in your mind. ‘I can’t be bothered.’ ‘What’s the point.’ “It’s going to be awful.” “I never really liked David anyway”, etc. Yet 99% of the time you go there because of peer pressure or marital obligation and end up having a much better time than you planned three hours ago.
Based on this human trait, Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioral Science in the Department of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences at the London School of Economics, recommends going back to the office “One more day than you’re comfortable with” – because humans are not reliable hedonic forecasters – you will actually have a far more rewarding time than the last two years of lockdown might have led you to believe.
Generally, “in the office” behavior is better. Technology is easier to master. It is illegal to email someone outside working hours and expect a response (in Belgium). Everyone has met your chat online now, so it’s more relaxed. Some companies have fun working Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – affectionately called becoming a TWAT (as coined not by me but by The Spectator in January 2019 in case you were wondering). Above all, everyone recognized that a drink after work or a lunch with colleagues drastically overpays in terms of happiness. To further prove the point, there is overcompensation at grateful bars and restaurants every day of the week.
Then there is the importance of a return to charm. Many businessmen look down on their dearly hydrated noses at any kind of charm, seeing it as unwanted obsequious greasing of the wheels. You can all but forget the charm when TeamsCall’s lighting makes you look like you’re inside a fridge or silhouetted against a window in need of a squeegee.
Yet the very brilliant and Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, & Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, points out that much economic activity would not even exist without what she calls ‘sweet talk’ — she even puts a number on it. 25%. Yes, a shift of work wouldn’t exist, get done, or get paid if it weren’t for that motivational little hallway meeting, that quick catch-up, or that massive Friday lunch.
Surely that’s reason enough to take off your sweatpants and head back to the office.