The end is in sight; how will a return to the office look?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since we all packed up our desks and were asked to start working from home. It’s twelve months later, and many of us are still utilising our bedrooms and our kitchens as our home office. Whilst we look to the future and prepare for the high street and hospitality to open up again, what will a return to the workplace, specifically for the fashion industry look like?

Tech companies such as Microsoft have made home working a permanent fixture, but with the need for designers, garment techs and stylist in the fashion industry, it’s not so black and white – as working from home has hindered much needed progress. There’s no doubt we have all adapted to these new ways of working, especially for those who have still needed to venture into the office time and time again. But what are the main benefits of the return to the office?

  • Socialising. The pandemic has stunted all of our social skills in some way. By nature we are social beings, and with tea breaks and lunchtime walks with colleagues no longer being an option, our work friendships have become virtual ones instead. This is only heightened when taken into consideration that many have started new jobs over the past twelve months. Those in entry level fashion jobs may have not even met their coworkers in person, instead building rapport over Zoom calls.
  • Communication. How many of us have struggled through a video call? Be it a lost connection, accidentally being left on mute (we’ve all been there), or when instant messaging, something you said has been misconstrued. Without the lack of physical presence, nuances are missed. Unlike when in the office, you can’t just walk over to someone’s desk to ask them a question. We’re missing that face to face time, and the ease and speed of communication it brings.
  • Mental Health Benefits. One huge positive of the last twelve months is that conversations around mental health have well and truly been heightened. Having the sense of routine that comes with heading to the office provides structure, which brings positivity and ease to the everyday.
  • The Economy. For some, the pandemic has provided positivity in that it’s helped people to save money. With no office to attend, morning coffees and lunchtime baguettes has been beneficial for us, but detrimental for small businesses and chains. We’re in need of a spending boom, and a return to the office is sure to benefit that.
  • Productivity. We’ve all seen a surge in meetings since working from home. Companies like Rise at Seven have now introduced ‘Power Hours’ where no-one is allowed to book meetings to ensure that people are left with time to get on with their own work, but group meetings are still eating into much of the day. By returning to the office part time, days spent physically with colleagues mean that there can be a dedicated routine to ideating together, thus alternative days spent at home can be used for actioning processes instead.
  • Creativity. Ultimately, with fashion being such a creative industry, our brains need to be stimulated and excited to come up with the most dynamic, fresh ideas. Unfortunately, being stuck at home for the last twelve months has no doubt stunted that for many. With socialising, getting out and about and seeing the world, we are opening our minds to new possibilities, content and designs that could be built. Plus, bouncing ideas off another human is always a quick, fun way which leads to results more often than not.