Future Workspaces

Future Workspaces

Guest blog by Patricia Harrington

This morning I took myself off on a bike ride. I wanted some time to think creatively, in a different environment, not sat in front of my laptop.

People may read this and think that creativity whilst cycling is ridiculous, and I should be at my desk, on my phone. My challenge back to you is simply, why?

Many colleagues I work with had a similar challenge when the paper moved to computers and letters moved to email.

Feeling guilty seems to be a recurring conversation I have with people.

I am guessing we’ve all heard the term ‘parent guilt’ right? My friends tell me it is an overwhelming feeling that their best is still not good enough for their child, or that they feel guilty leaving them.

Future Workspaces

Through conversations, I regularly hear people say they don’t want to step away from their computers as their managers will question why they are showing offline on systems such as Microsoft Teams, or simply the fear of not replying to an email straight away.

Does this mean that what some of us are now experiencing is ‘work guilt’? And, because of this sense of guilt, our laptops have somehow become part of the family and like our children, we worry about them too?

Motivational Speaker Simon Sinek says that work and life are not opposing forces and I tend to agree. However, achieving balance is, in itself, a challenge. Over the last four months, I have completely overhauled my diet and it hasn’t always gone to plan. But I keep going and the results are now speaking for themselves. This change has been as much about me as the organisation and friends who are helping me on this journey. We really are in it together!

All businesses need culture at work that empowers colleagues to think creatively about their day and provides the tools colleagues need. If we’re not in lockdown and you need an in-person meeting, do you need to meet in the office or would a local coffee shop work better as it is closer to where you both live? In turn, we as leaders need to trust our team to get on and do the job.

Whatever we do, we all need to make an effort. Since when did things fall into our laps? If we can send an email, surely, we can book a 15-minute virtual coffee to connect with others?

Maybe knowing what’s going on around us will help us to manage our days even better and just maybe, we can put our laptops down without feeling guilty.

Do we really want to go back to row upon row of desks? I for one, most certainly don’t.


Patricia Harrington is the Future Workspaces Engagement Manager at we are aspire. She has worked in housing for 18 years, five of these at Aspire Housing in the Older Persons team. She is a board member for CIH West Midlands, and Chair of the Realise charity Ambassadorial Group.