Feels the same… but different

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By Louise Killough - Client Services Director

Humans have this innate biological need to see each other, in the real, physical world. Fortune.com says that an MIT study, conducted mostly with college-age volunteers (pre-pandemic) found that for many people, 10 hours without any social contact evoked a kind of psychological and physical craving with the same level of intensity as 10 waking hours without food.

People need people.

Therefore, we made the decision to open the office doors for any of us who really need the space to work, the space to think, or even just the space to see another human being.

But having the office open with some lingering restrictions is tricky. As humans, many of us want contact, to feel close to each other, and to bond. That’s difficult when you have a mask on and are forever keeping your distance.

As I found out last week, going into the office for the first time in a long time is like being in the office pre-covid – but somehow completely different. Your mind tricks you into thinking you’re ‘back’, mentally transporting you to a time when you could stand in the kitchen with your team making a coffee, chatting about the weekend, or fill a meeting room for a workshop without a care in the world.

And let’s not soft-pedal the emotional side of the experience. You are finally seeing the people you have spent the last 500 days speaking to through a screen, some who you have never met face-to-face. Now they’re standing right there in front of you, in the flesh (but fully clothed obvs). But you can’t act the same way you did before. Your heart says give them a long, tight hug, but your head says no.

The one thing that is clear as we start to transition back to the office is that you cannot underestimate the joy of seeing people again. I was overwhelmed with happiness seeing the team, but also with the emotional realisation of what we have been missing all this time.

We have had to adapt the way we create ideas, produce, and pitch our work. And it has worked. But nothing beats the feeling of getting in a room with your team to work on a challenge. We can’t wait to do this with clients again too. Make no mistake, there will be the very best coffee and the very best (beautifully wrapped) biscuits waiting for them.

We don’t quite know what the next few months will bring, and no one has got it all figured out just yet. At The Union, we are waiting to see what happens, what people like, and how we work best. And that’s quite exciting in a way. It feels like the whole world is in this transition phase together.

What we do know is that we work in an industry where collaboration fuels creativity, and creativity is the driving force behind everything we do. So, whatever form collaboration takes from here on, we know it is the key to who we are as people, and imperative for creating great ideas.

“We all know that work will never be the same, even if we don’t yet know all the ways in which it will be different,”

Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield. 

We’ve also taken this time as an opportunity to have our office building refurbished. It looks fabulous! There was a little Edinburgh flooding to contend with, but that did not dampen our spirits.

We can’t wait to dust off the proper clothes, put on the decent shoes, and fling open the doors. The office is ready for us. And we are ready for the joy.

Louise Killough, Client Services Director.