In 2020, the words “remote and virtual” became synonymous with work. In 2021, many companies around the world will reexamine the office’s role and its impact on business.
The pandemic taught us we can operate business remotely thanks to technology and software that supports collaboration. As companies begin to announce their return to work plans, we must remember the critical role the physical office plays in Allison+Partners’ award-winning culture. While we were able to pivot and adapt in the pandemic, collaboration software will never replace the output that happens with human-to-human interaction. The natural organic moments and creative sparks that grow in a physical environment are nearly impossible to recreate in a virtual setting.
As the general manager of our largest office, I believe the office will continue to serve as a catalyst in three key areas:
- Collaboration – multiple perspectives are always better than one. Simply put, physical environments are better equipped to foster collaboration. Problem solving in person and side by side tends to happen best when team members are in the same space. From a hallway conversation to a formal in-person brainstorm, the human element is the X factor when it comes to collaboration.
- Creativity – there’s nothing like being in the same room as other creative thinkers who know how to build together on and develop ideas, programs and campaigns. For anyone who has participated in a remote brainstorm, it’s not just the snacks and candy that’s missing – it’s the real-life triggers that spark creativity that’s missing in our virtual world.
- Community – our core values come to life best in a physical space. The office is the home base where we create IRL an inclusive and collaborative environment. The strong connections and relationships made in the office make us better at our jobs and make us better humans. Community also supports a strong culture and creates lasting and meaningful connections between colleagues, one of the elements that has helped cement Allison+Partners as a best place to work in New York and across the world.
While the cadence with which people frequent the office may evolve, the purpose of the office as a home base and fertile ground for new ideas and thinking will remain. The office is part of our journey in work but not the end destination. Even before the pandemic, we proved as an agency work could be done from home, airplanes, hotel lobbies and in transit. The driving purpose behind the physical office space will be community – human-to-human interaction and collaboration.
As we prepare to reopen our doors and reunite with colleagues, friends and clients, the office will be a key part of the journey. I look forward to our coming return to the office and believe the experience will be met with joy, excitement and gratitude and driven by a common purpose of person-to-person contact. I’m looking forward to “seeing” clients and team members soon.
Tracey Cassidy is the General Manager of Allison+Partners NYC office, the largest in the network. She is co-chair of Allison+Partners Women’s Leadership Program (WLP). Tracey brings more than 20 years of experience building brands and safeguarding their reputations. Follow her on Twitter @TraceyCassidy or LinkedIN.