"Offices are just a waste of time and rent"

One minute briefing: Detected CEO Liam Chennells says 'micro-events' in gyms and coffee shops are making the traditional workplace redundant.

by Orianna Rosa Royle
Last Updated: 14 Oct 2020

Management Today recently asked leaders how they've adapted their firms' working arrangements in light of the government’s latest advice to work from home if you can.

But what if you're starting a business under COVID restrictions? Would you invest in an office then?

Detected’s CEO Liam Chennells explains why he has shunned the traditional workspace for his new venture in favour of a more agile (and at times unusual) approach.


“Traditional offices are mainly an unproductive waste of time and money. Most people turn up and spend half an hour talking about what they did since they last saw each other. They then grab their coffee and breakfast until mid-morning, work until 12pm, at which point everyone takes their lunch.

"It takes half an hour to get back to productive work, then everyone either goes home or starts thinking about it. Once you add meetings people don't prepare for properly and other distractions to the mix, businesses probably only receive three hours of productive work a day.

“Offices are often unwelcoming spaces built around hierarchies. I don’t want to force those who can’t face an office or are struggling to reintegrate after lockdown into an environment that intensifies their discomfort. People feel more in control when they can choose where they work, which significantly improves mental health. 

"Rent is a money pit - especially in London where office space is the most expensive in Europe - that could be spent on things that make your team (and customers) happier, like increased salaries, new technology, and research and development. 

“Instead we have memberships at flexible locations for when there’s a need to come together for a specific purpose. Working in new and unusual environments - once we worked in a forest, mixing project planning with team building activities like setting up tents - enables you to challenge your team and prompt fresh thinking. 

"Some of the team even meet at the gym; a goal for the end of a gym session includes a business decision as well as the workout. 

“Our stakeholders realised they live close to each other and chose a local space to get together faster when a problem arose. When there’s a flexible culture, micro-events like this happen all the time and enables teams to react to changes the moment they happen.

“As a leader, when you eliminate the structure and distractions of a traditional office, you’re left with what’s truly important: How are people spending their time, how are they feeling, how can you help them succeed? And agility - the energy, tools and culture to react immediately.”

To examine the future of the office and how to manage organisations split between on-site and WFH tribes, Management Today has released a special report, Will Hybrid Working Ever Work?

We’re also holding a new free virtual event in October, Leading in the Hybrid Workplace, where you’ll have the chance to hear the experiences of top businesses like Twitter, Severn Trent and HS2. Find out more here

Image credit: RapidEye via Getty Images

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