Did COVID-19 kill the ‘Office’?

Patricia Newton. Chair of Trustees of the construction industry charity event Teambuild and founder and Operations Director at EngineRoom consultancy (www.engineroom.company)

Patricia Newton. Chair of Trustees of Teambuild and Founder and Operations Director at EngineRoom consultancy (www.engineroom.company) offers her thoughts on how our work culture and location will change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic…


Most of us would agree it has been challenging working in these unusual times, which many of us could never have imagined other than in a Sci-Fi movie.

So, how have we all coped with working from home from both an employee and employer’s


Time to adapt


As an employer, I have been surprised at how easily my company has adapted, bar some initial IT teething problems, and our people have enjoyed the flexibility that working from home has enabled.

In the media, there has been a great deal of speculation as to how this is going to change the way we work forever and that there will be a permanent shift to working from home with the resultant knock-on effect in respect to “office development” and in the diluting of big city centre services from bars and cafés to dry cleaners etc.

In my opinion, the move to a more flexible working pattern was inevitable long before COVID-19 came along. For the past decade we have been able to work any time and anywhere (as in the “Martini moment” for those that remember the advert!).

What COVID-19 has done is merely accelerate the change. But I can’t see it is an ‘All or Nothing’ shift as many spectators suggest. The ‘Office’ is a vital envelope for any organisation – it is where we come together to discuss and share ideas, to mentor the next generation and to learn new things.


Long live the Office


The Office is part of our social being and gives us a sense of belonging. It is where long term friendships and relationships are created. It is where we moan to colleagues and vent our frustrations about the Industry – so I don’t see the future of the office as dead, it is just going to evolve.

Why is this relevant to TeamBuild? Well TeamBuild is all about coming together to share ideas to find effective solutions to problems. It is the essence of what TeamBuild is about and in my experience the best solution to problems often comes from a collaborative approach, through sharing ideas with other professionals from different disciplines with differing viewpoints.

TeamBuild is about sharing ideas and learning from others – it’s about making you into a rounded professional and no more working in professional SILO’s!

My feeling is that while the future may bring more virtual and online connections and perhaps more time working from home and more flexible working, meeting face to face in workplaces will continue. And while we are adapting our offering, to provide virtual training and connections with our network of past competitors and senior figures in the construction industry, we will in the future, when it is safe to do so, offer face to face training and allow for those vital connections and conversations to be had in a variety of contexts. In fact, our team have already booked the conference venue for Teambuild in November 2021 with a view to resuming face-to-face service as normal.

Meanwhile, during these days when restrictions and safety concerns mean more virtual and fewer face-to-face interactions, it is vital that we stay connected, and keep our conversations throughout the industry and disciplines going.

If you would like to register for our virtual event which takes place from 20th to 22nd November this year, please fill out  below and meanwhile, stay safe, and stay connected.


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