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By David Fazakerley - 5th January 2022

2022: All Together Now… or not? Reflections from our In-House Legal CIO

Last week, CTS hosted another one of our ‘Big Heated Debate’ social events, and were joined by law firm leaders, both clients and prospects, from up and down the UK. Participants were invited to take sides on the following: “2022 – All Together Now……or Not? Recent evidence has pointed to a drop in productivity at home. Will collaboration issues and fatigue be the key drivers for the return to the office?” Here is what we discovered.

Firstly, the topic of this debate session was created before the Prime Minister’s announcement of Omicron and the new restrictions came into play, so the debate became more topical and relevant by the time the event finally took place last week.

In essence, we were debating whether 2022 would be more of the same as 2021 in terms of the mix and balance of hybrid working or whether there is a trend towards getting more and more people back into the office. Key streams of thought included the recent surveys pointing to a reduction in productivity at home over the course of 2021 as mental health and wellbeing factors became more evident, with hindered collaboration of in-office and remote teams and people despite the tools that exist, a lack of supervision and mentoring also playing into this trending.

Also discussed was the transformation and adaptation of the physical office space into places of teamwork, team building, learning, collaboration and also places of fun! Following a long period of solely working from home, employees and potential employees are demanding much more from their office working environments – gone are the days of the traditional office that only offer a desk, computer and chair. Instead, a successful hybrid office must include a blend of flexible spaces that are designed to meet employee needs and support them across different tasks.

Whilst the current and escalating COVID-19 restrictions played on the thinking of the debate protagonists, it was felt that our vaccine and booster status and focus might lead to a release of restrictions towards of the middle of the New Year, and that recent trends would continue, i.e. a return of more people to offices and town centres.

Finally, after much toing and froing, an amendment was agreed that passed unanimously – in 2022, we would be MOSTLY together now (in the office) – but all agreed that a large element of hybrid working and flexible work days and hours are here to stay.

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