Picture me at the turn of the millennium in an over-sized suit, colourful tie from Next, curtains haircut, shoe-horned with two others into a one-person office – a quarter of the office taken up by computers, a printer, and a fax machine.
I remember my first office clearly. It was my first job out of uni and it was tiny, shared with my boss. Everybody in that place of work pretty much had their own office or shared one with a minion like me (or sometimes two). That felt pretty common at the time. However, fast-forward (coughs) 23 years and office options are nothing short of ridiculous, which has only accelerated post-lockdown.
Here at Brew, we’ve always had a hybrid work environment – some working from home, some working from the office. It seemed quite novel 13 years ago when we started. People looked at us either amazed, intrigued, or confused when we explained our setup.
Now it’s far closer to the norm and after a hiatus where everybody had to work from home (I’m looking at you, COVID), we’ve now landed back on a hybrid setup where we rent space at the incredible STEAMhouse in Birmingham – our home for the last 12 months.
Originally built in 1899 as the headquarters of the Eccles Rubber and Cycle Company, the Belmont Works has undergone extensive redevelopment, taking inspiration from incubators across the world to re-emerge as a home for collaborative communities and business growth activities.
And by God, have they done a spectacular job with it. Transforming it into a stunning triple-height atrium and exhibition space/gallery of the STEAMhouse with 100,000 square feet of space across five storeys with next-gen WiFi…and yes, I did copy this directly from their website.
Work from home versus the office
When it comes to the dilemma of working from home or working from an office, our strategy at Brew has been to give people the option as individuals. No rules on whether you work from home or work in the STEAMhouse for x days a week. We were keen to let it breathe and give it room to work itself out.
Bruce Daisley, formerly of Twitter and now a commentator who speaks in depth on Workplace Culture, says on the office’s future: ‘Whatever you do now, frame it as an experiment’
His point – it’s hard to evaluate where we are when we’re in it every day, which is why we’re letting this transition breathe. Over the last 12 months we’ve seen more members of our team want to come into the office, craving that interaction and connectivity that comes with seeing people face-to-face. But, similarly, staff have enjoyed the balance that comes with a hybrid setup, appreciating the option to work from home if it suits them better.
Either way, we’re looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months bring with the lovely, supportive team and fellow businesses at the STEAMhouse.