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The best thing about having learnt to work alone

The best thing about having learnt to work alone

MAY 2020 | 6 minutes

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness” (Dalai Lama).

Some things had been taken for granted. Going to work, sharing a coffee break with colleagues, eating with family, meeting up with friends, enjoying the outdoors and our health... But, the exceptional circumstances that we are experiencing have turned our world upside down, forcing us to stop, rethink and reorganise things. They’ve made us appreciate human and professional relationships more, as well as everything we are able to achieve and contribute to when we are together.

New technologies and tools have made working remotely easier, but they’ve also made it clear just how enriching relationships with others are, as well as how creativity arises from living together and shared talent. In fact, according to a study carried out by Actiu on 400 professionals with different profiles, 56% of those questioned miss their colleagues and 33% miss the times when they were able to switch off at the office.

Actiu is now launching #BackForGood, a campaign aiming to give its team, colleagues and customers a voice. To reflect on the potential of talent when it is pooled, and the importance of the time and space shared by a team. The work may be virtual, but people are not and the best ideas come from collaborating as teams.

“Telecommuting has always been an additional option that can be useful, but when it comes down to it, the magic of face-to-face contact is invaluable, just like with music. I miss the informal moments, working on projects standing up, next to the coffee machine, those completely spontaneous 2-minute micro meetings where the catchiest ideas pop up.”, states the managing director of the agency GettingBetter, Lucía de la Vega. 

“Communication is universal. I'd say that 20% is verbal, but there is 80% of communication that isn't. This is body language, communicating by looking into each other's eyes. Face-to-face communication. That is what has been lost.”, emphasises Lorena Mussa from Estudio Arquitectura (Chile).

The rise in working remotely has forced us to change our methods, processes and tactics.

“A studio’s set up is based is based on the multidisciplinary nature thereof and the work carried out by different profiles. I do miss interacting with my colleagues though. I am now also discovering other digital tools that allow us to continue working remotely and that, in some way, the team’s cohesiveness is still there, but obviously it is not the same.”, the creative director at Odosdesign notes.

In this regard, Carolina Benavent, accounts executive at Intermundo, stresses that “Not having colleagues close by and not being able to see people face-to-face is a disadvantage. These personal interactions are essential. They help you to come up with new ideas for work. When working remotely, you’re alone in front of your computer and, although you do have the virtual support of your colleagues, it’s nothing like being in daily contact. I value team work and being all together and exchanging ideas so much more than before”.

Alejandra Martínez Boluda, director at BICG - specialist in work methods and work spaces, states: “For me team work is key. I believe in collective intelligence, and I therefore believe in the exchanging of knowledge in order to create better solutions.”

This reflection about the importance of contact with colleagues is also apparent in terms of the space people are now working in from home. In fact, according to Actiu’s survey, 32% of those taking part do not have access to a suitable work space or furniture that allows them to work comfortably.

Calling to...

"The home office has obviously become a much bigger opportunity. But the proper home office is what we need to look at and are we equipping ourselves with everything that we need to actually be able to work during a time of crisis? We all probably realize that we are a little deficient whether it's in technology or just products in general in actual workspaces set aside, that isn’t the dining room table or a small little writing desk to pay our bills. I think we'll really start to rethink how we carve out space for ourselves at home.", Adam Branscum CEO at AB Modern. 


The environment shared by the entire team also becomes more relevant, not only from an efficiency and comfort perspective, but mainly in an emotional sense.

“The space becomes valuable as a result of the experiences had within it. It is the place where you designed such and such a project, where that idea was born, or where you signed off something with such and such a person. The work space has become essential; not being in a meeting and being able to understand a facial expression, a gesture, a person's posture. In time this could turn us into a society that has a huge lack of social capabilities or habits that allow us to interact and connect with other people.”, according to Gerardo Broissin from Broissin Arquitectos.

Rafa de Ramón, CEO at Utopicus, states that “We’re really happy at home, but houses are not places for working. And without a shadow of a doubt, there are things that, when working as a team, you can't do on a video call. You miss the silly remarks in the corridor. We will be back working in a physical work space with people because it's necessary.”

“We're beginning to realise that, when you're able to collaborate and express yourself, there are a series of things that can't be done with a camera while working remotely. Being close to people and being able to improvise makes the space a fundamental tool which nowadays, despite working as a team and being much more capable of doing so, we are missing out on so many things because we are not in that physical space”, according to Leyre Octavio, managing director at Savills.

So, working remotely will help us to reflect on the dynamics and to rethink shared spaces.

The sales director for the US Pacific Northwest at Design Public Group, Zach Matheson states, “I think working remotely will be sustained over time. I think that a lot of people are getting used to working in multiple virtual settings.” In fact, according to Actiu’s study, 73% of those surveyed want to go back to the office but work from home once a week. But, shared spaces also need to ensure that people feel safe, keeping a 2-metre distance and encouraging hygiene and cleanliness.

In this sense, the crisis is being seen as an opportunity to do things better.

“We need to create a business plan in accordance with this situation. One of the last crises that we faced at Actiu was the economic crisis that coincided with the development of the Technological Park and its inauguration. It seemed dreadful, as if we would never bounce back. But what we did was grow stronger and create new expectations. We want this project to keep moving forward in terms of innovation, providing solutions that will make people happier and more functional”, states Actiu’s chairman and founder, Vicente Berbegal.

Actiu’s offices will soon be full again with all the people that make the company’s growth possible on a daily basis. Colleagues will reconnect and create that special environment where the best ideas are born and creativity is boosted. Everything will go back to how it was whilst being different at the same time; safety will be fundamental and spaces will have to adapt in order to guarantee the well-being of workers without putting limits on their relationships. Life will get back on track, but with everything we have learnt from this crisis so that we can be even better. #BackForGood.