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An office fit for the future: ironmongery for workplace revival

Nik Byrne, Account Manager at Poole Waite, on how the company is helping clients to attract staff back into the office.

Navigating the modern workplace: why don't we want to go to work?

People need people, To walk to To talk to To cry and rely on, People will always need people. To love and to miss To hug and to kiss, It’s useful to have other people. To whom to moan If you’re all alone, It’s so hard to share When no one is there. There’s not much to do When there’s no one but you. People will always need people.
– Benjamin Zephaniah

The late, much-missed English poet and writer, Benjamin Zephaniah, said it best in 2022, when we all thought the pandemic would never end. He brilliantly articulated the findings of the Microsoft Work Trend Index and highlighted in Harvard Business Review in a way that makes it crystal clear why people need to go to work: because of other people.

Black and white portrait photograph of Benjamin Zephaniah.
Benjamin Zephaniah. Photo by Adrian Pope.

There are undoubtable benefits of home working; the saved commute time, travel costs and better management of work-life balance. Simply put, people need a more compelling reason to – as HBR puts it – "schlep back into the office".

And in the words of Zephaniah: people need people. Staff need to redevelop bonds and team spirit, to have someone to share their laughs and their sorrows.

How can companies encourage this in their offices?

Commuters crossing a busy bridge in London, over a river.
Saved commute time and travel costs are undoubtedly a benefit of home working.

Unlocking efficiency: ironmongery and beyond for workplace revival

As Nik puts it: "It’s a social thing – so office managers and business decision makers are responding to this by creating a more socially pleasant environment. Better facilities, places to socialise together over a coffee or an exercise machine, lounge areas and break-out spaces. The evolution of the office has picked up space to bring people together. Working at home has its advantages and for sure, the hybrid pattern is here to stay. But work-life balance also means making the 'work' part an event."

According to data collected by Microsoft:

85% of workers said they would be motivated to go into the office if they could meet and socialise with their colleagues.

Since mid-2023, Nik has found that Poole Waite are becoming a more integrated partner in helping clients to create these new, more attractive spaces: "we have become a go-to, trusted partner in supplying much more than ironmongery."

It started with procuring bicycle racks (they are technically ironmongery after all), then shower fittings, changing room equipment, lockers, tables, chairs, hanging and coat racks to name a few.

The advent of workspace and coworking environments started the trend to attract desk workers and sole business owners, but for a different set of reasons – to collaborate and energise innovation.

This initially meant an introduction of facilities, but the role of the larger business office has since recognised that their staff want to integrate a more sustainable way of working and living – cycling to work for example and all that entails.

As Nik has identified, "facilities managers need reliable partners to anticipate and help in procuring all kinds of new fittings to help make life easier for their tenants, colleagues and the general workforce."

A standing woman in a yellow shirt laughs with her colleague sitting down at a table during an office meeting.
85% of workers said they would be motivated to go into the office if they could meet and socialise with their colleagues.

There’s more data to support Zephaniah's insightful words with the same survey showing:

Over 40% of workers feel more disconnected from their company and their relationships with teammates and colleagues have weakened.

It is even more essential for younger team members to establish themselves and build confidence and relationships, especially with senior staff. The desk has become the least important space in many respects.

In these fast-moving times, we all need people we can work with, rely upon, share a story or two and make life that little bit easier.

Poole Waite: your one-stop procurement partner

Poole Waite have long been a reliable and empathic partner for building owners, managers, and tenants, and now we are quickly becoming a one-stop shop for many looking for ironmongery and more for workplace revival.

Nik puts it succinctly: "Ironmongery is one of those essential elements that is both tactile and human. It’s all about the things that people touch and make them feel safe – in keeping fire doors closed and privacy protected. In keeping people secure and able to make their spaces safe – even at a subconscious level. It’s about far, far more than door handles."

As Poole Waite moves into a new era with their imminent showroom opening in the heart of Clerkenwell, the long-established company is fulfilling new functions by helping clients meet the demands of the post-pandemic era, and helping make the workplace that bit more human and social for their clients.

But we should give the last word to another kind of poet on the same subject and taking it a stage further as we all realise that not only do we need each other, but that is one of the best things in life:

“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world”
– Barbra Streisand


Whether your project is old or new, Poole Waite’s long history, expertise and our wide range of designs and styles to suit your vision and budget make us the ideal partners to help you make the right choice. And to make your building a place people love.






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