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Working From Home? Why the Office Hasn't Lost its Romance.

I stepped out of the office on the 18th of March 2020, somewhat disgruntled that I would have to spend the next “few weeks” working from home and having no face time with my team. I dropped my suits off at the dry cleaner and tried to comfort myself with thoughts of all the vulnerable people I would be protecting by ‘doing my bit’. After all, there would be some positives: No Waterloo & City Line commute, more rest & relaxation, and the opportunity to finally kick-start that strict diet & fitness regime that I had been mentally compiling for the last two-to-ten years. Well, as the old song goes, “Two out of three ain’t bad…”

Like many others in The City, little did I know it would be the last time I walked through those doors, oblivious to just how much the world around us was about to change for everyone. Whilst panic, fear and economic uncertainty tore through the country like wildfire, we tried to keep positive as hiring freeze after hiring freeze took hold and the déjà vu of the 2008 financial crisis started to set in. My mind began to drift back to the news of Bear Stearns and Lehman et al failing, as a cold shiver descended down my spine. With uncertainty spreading I made an exciting, yet slightly daunting, move to a competitor to head up and grow the Finance division, all the while crossing my fingers that things would indeed bounce back.

Fortunately, we discovered that Insurance is a mightily adaptable and resilient industry, more so perhaps than we knew. Technology was hastily implemented, internal compliance remodelled and laptops ordered in their thousands. We discovered that, contrary to popular belief, professionals were, in fact, capable of not only working from home but, in most cases, became far more efficient and productive. Finally, we discovered that “you’re on mute” would become the defining catchphrase of 2020.

After a brief, shuddering halt to recruitment, most Insurance firms began to get their growth plans and headcount hires firmly back on track and we are now, thankfully, seeing the Insurance job market busier than it has ever been. Mid- level roles were the first to come out of the shadows, with the mothballs from various transformation projects being hastily shoved back in to the virtual drawers, or returned to Amazon. Businesses began to look to the future once more and, slowly but surely, we began to see a growing number of senior, strategic positions come to market. Confidence is key, as they say, and never have we seen a clearer demonstration of that old adage than the bullish market upturn on the news that several viable vaccines were on the horizon.

The key point that I have heard across the board when speaking to candidates and clients alike, is how this pandemic has changed perspectives and made us realise that you just can’t buy back time, no matter how hard you work to attain it. It seems that the ‘new normal’ for most in The City will see us working a significant proportion of our weeks from home, even post Covid. That idea sounds fantastic, in principle, but how will that affect the square mile? Not just the Insurance sector, but do we shoulder a moral obligation to support local businesses? The dry cleaner, to which I popped in almost a year ago, has gone in to liquidation with my suits now lost forever. They are by no means alone. So many local businesses have shut their doors after generations of trading, with many more to follow.

One of the biggest impacts that will be felt, however, is by the bright-eyed graduates who have spent the last few years of their lives excitedly and tirelessly working towards their dream: That first step into a career in The City. I still remember vividly my first role ‘in town’; the amazement at the pace of life, the gravitas and experience of all the successful and well-travelled people with whom I found myself surrounded and, perhaps most of all, obligatory after-work beers every Thursday. Ok, and most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but I digress. My point is, working in the office is not just about whether or not we need to physically be in the office to do our jobs, it’s about all those other benefits we gain from our professional and social interactions. Many of my fondest memories have been forged either through work, or with colleagues who have become and remained close friends outside of work.

I can’t help thinking how differently my life would have turned out, or even whether I would have become the same person, without those formative years spent fairly evenly divided between the office and the local pub, entertaining clients. I feel a tinge of sadness at the thought of future graduate intakes missing out on face-to-face interaction of the office environment, from which we all benefited.  Do we not owe a small portion of the wisdom and life experience we gained to the next generation?

When we beat this virus, and beat it we will, don’t be too hasty to shun the office life completely. After all; we had some good times, too.


By Dominic Mabbs

To get in touch with Dominic give him a call on 0203 5877 415 or email


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