The Office Workplace has changed over the decades. From cubicles and corner offices, to open floor plans — and now your converted coat closets — the locus of our work is always in flux.

Since office life is such a huge part of all of our day-to-day experience — even more so now that it’s invaded our homes — it’s constantly undergoing renovation. Over the past decade, fads have affected the physical office space itself, as well as the underlying theory behind how we structure our work in practice day-to-day.

From self-improvement theories on how to increase productivity — some propagated by out-there tech billionaires who claim extreme measures such as not eating are the key to their success — to cultish workspace inventions like WeWork, sometimes our desperate attempts to upgrade our office life go too far.

WFH brought both challenges and revelations. For many, it was freeing. For others, the pressures to perform well led to absolutely no boundaries — hello, that would be me! As for those who missed being in the office, having no separation between life and work was detrimental to their overall work-life balance.

However, due to the pandemic, a wider group took up the question of what the office should look like. Instead of taking the status quo as a given, a cultural conversation began about the most efficient way to work.

As we gained a more diverse perspective in these conversations, the goals shifted. Suddenly, it wasn’t about how to make more money or how to increase productivity. Instead, people focused on how to live more holistic and satisfying lives.

A strange phenomenon occurred: the great resignation. Turns out, people wanted better jobs. And — after a record high number of Americans quitting their jobs, employers have been forced to rethink how they treat their employees. Now, the workers have more power. And the notion of the office space is striving to accommodate them.

The Office

Innovative structural changes are being implemented to attract new employees. Better perks — not the ping pong tables of those start-up days of yore — such as increased benefits, more time off and competitive salaries are only the start.

According to the New York Times, the four-day workweek is “in our grasp.” The movement has been adopted by many companies across the country with staggering results. Adoptees cited an enhanced work-life balance, more focus, happier personal lives — not to forget increased productivity and a better work environment. A win-win for everyone.

If this sounds too good to be true, wait until you hear about the three-day work week, which could be next. Most companies are moving towards a remote-friendly atmosphere. They’re even normalizing remote work as part of the regular work day for most workers.

According to Barron’s: “The pandemic has also given a shot in the arm to innovation to support remote working. Working from home will increase from 5% of full-paid-days pre-pandemic to about 25% post-pandemic. This is generating a gold-rush of tech firms to generate the next killer app, product, or software to support working from home. We have seen some major innovations over the last 10 years, notably video-call applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, file-sharing software like Dropbox, and communications platforms like Slack. These products have revolutionized our pandemic experience of working from home.”

Barron’s also predicts that: “the next decade will see even more rapid change as firms pour billions of dollars into developing WFH friendly products. Whether this is virtual reality, AI guided cameras, or holographic projections, the experience of working from home will radically improve for those of us lucky enough to enjoy it. The pandemic is just the start of the working-from-home revolution.”

For now, as Omicron surges and many return to quarantining out of safety and full-time remote-work, we’re looking forward to a tech-evolution that’s no longer productivity-driven but people-driven.

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Why You Need Cometeer Coffee: Coffee You Can Take on the Go

Cometeer Coffee

There’s an internet trend that says that everyone has three drinks: one for energy, one for hydration, and one for fun.

Hydration drinks are usually seltzer, a sports drink, or good old-fashioned water. Fun drinks can be anything from boba to kombucha to a refreshing fountain sprite. But the drink you choose for energy says the most about you. Are you a chill tea drinker? An alternative yerba mate devotee? A matcha-obsessed TikTok That Girl wannabe? A chaotic Red Bull chugger? Or are you a lover of the classics, a person after my own heart, who just loves a good cuppa joe?

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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