7 Reasons Returning to the Office is a Good Idea
85% of the current remote workforce enjoy working remotely. Remote work is here to stay and the number of people who work from home is accelerating. But there’s more to the story.
55% of current remote workers would like to return to the office as soon as its safe. According to CNBC, Google spent $1 billion to buy office space close to their gigantic headquarters in London.
Fully remote and hybrid:
Before the pandemic, only about 4% of high paying jobs were available remotely. By the end of 2021 that doubled to about 18%. By the end of 2022, over 25% of high paying jobs will be available for remote workers.
3 million professional jobs went permanently remote in the last quarter of 2021. Ladders says nearly 20% of all professional jobs are now remote.
If you want the best and brightest, flexibility will serve you well.
Organizations that provide hybrid work have a larger pool of prospective employees. (Washington Post)
7 reasons returning to the office is a good idea:
- Culture building.
- Reduced tech fatigue.
- Career opportunities.
Managers that want face-to-face work have the opportunity to evaluate their reasons. “We’ve always done it that way,” isn’t a reason.
- How will you capitalize on collaboration opportunities?
- How might you train people in team creativity and social intelligence? Social interaction makes us smarter.
- What’s the value of culture building for employees? If you ask WD40 or Zappos, you might get interesting answers.
- How will you prioritize and maximize mentoring and coaching opportunities?
You can bark orders, or you can make office-life worthwhile.
Why do you think returning to the office is the best option?
How might leaders make office-life valuable to employees?
I hope you’ll join me!
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There is absolutely no point bringing people back into offices to “collaborate and socialise” if your culture is invested in building barriers and maintaining silos. Many organisations weren’t interested in building culture, mentoring or creating opportunities when they had everybody in the office pre-Covid. What will have made them interested now?
Thanks Mitch. A company that sucked before covid will suck after, unless they change.
This stat is misleading, “55% of current remote workers would like to return to the office as soon as its safe.” When you click on the source this is not a stat. The closest one is “57 Percent of Current Remote Workers Would Feel Comfortable Returning to the Office.” Feeling comfortable does not equate wanting to return to the office! I work in IT and not a single person I know wants to return to the office, but yes we might’ve been comfortable with it if we were forced due to vaccination numbers, low cases, etc. at the time.
It’s also misleading to hint that everyone wants to work from home. I talk with many leaders who have mixed feelings.
There a several factors to consider. Some IT workers can work from home. Others have to get their hands on equipment. Another consideration is personality. Introverts are more comfortable with staying at home.
I find the question of returning to the office difficult.
My strongest position is, if you want people in the office then make it worthwhile.
Thanks for this Dan! Those seven points are valuable. I would love to know your thoughts on how to maintain those things when having a team that is part remote, part office. I recently started a new position where I am 100% remote. I will travel in the office, which is a few states away, about once a month to meet with my team. Of course, that is if it is safe.
We have a team that is part remote (2 of us) and the rest are hybrid in the office due toe COVID. What are your thoughts to keeping a cohesive team when we are split this way?
Hi Stacey, your context is in my opinion the most challenging of all. Let me give this some thought.
One thing is sure, the bigger the challenge the greater the opportunity for creativity. But that sounds a little cavalier.
Because we are people and not machines, we have to work together in order to build relationships, share and expand each others’ knowledge and expertise, and to get outstanding results and provide excellent service to our customers. Welcome Back Everyone!.
Thanks Sam. I see you’re on the ‘go to the office’ team. I was surprised to learn that Google invested so heavily in new office space. You would think a technology company might go ALL work from home. Actually, some do, and more will. We live in interesting times.
The assertions that Collaboration, Creativity, Productivity, etc willl be improved by bringing people back to the office are not supported by much hard evidence. There is also much evidence to the contrary. For example, access to good collaboration tools appears to have greater impact on collaboration than does co-location. What about replacing tech fatigue with commute fatigue, by adding a couple of extra hours to the working day? So many corporations are already so widely dispersed geographically that the world of dawn to dusk Zoom and Teams calls will continue regardless of whether employees do them from a desk in a crowded office or the relative tranquility of their homes.
Thanks Eamon. I’m really glad you chimed in. Your comment reminds me that research is an in flux like everything else. There was a time when research indicated smoking was good for you.
Having said that, physical presences – in itself – doesn’t solve anything. Your note about commute fatigue is well taken. I remember reading research that revealed the commute as one of the high stress points in the day for many people. (Of course, who can rely on research.)
There is no going back to “what was”. Nor should we. I have a lot of problems with how “leaders” are framing this – they and our companies have benefitted enormously from people working from home. But they also want to dictate all the terms and conditions for employment for what “seems right to them”. To me it seems they want to have their cake and eat it too. I’m kind of done with this type of attitude in leadership. What has benefitted them most and our families most must come first. Additionally, with housing costs not being matched by wages the daily commute times for metro areas are absolute life killers. It turns out Work-Life Balance/Integration requires less time in the office. Full disclosure – I also fully support a large reduction in the current work week to 30 hour or less. The results for people and families in our current paradigm are not good and we should not continue to do more of the same in future generations. Working more for less pay and less time with family is not a sustainable model for the USA (or any nation). Companies are richer than ever. They’ve not been harmed at all.
Thanks Jennifer. I feel your passion and completely agree with the pain that lousy leaders create in people’s lives. Your comment, “there’s no going back wot what was” is true and perhaps terrifying to leaders who hold to command-and-control structures of leadership.
The question of returning to the office is bigger than lousy leadership. Some companies are learning. Coors is one example. https://bit.ly/3q2YHlR
I think some companies are learning to listen. Perhaps we could all improve our listening skills.
Glad you chimed in.
We are living in times in which our decisions now may impact our societies for decades to come. I am anxious to see signs that indicate companies are considering a wide perspective of individual employees’ desires AND human communities’ needs as they make these “where and if we gather” decisions. These are decisions that cost a lot of corporate money and, therefore, are unlikely to be reversed without a major forcing function in the future. Oh… the need to choose wisely…
Thanks Jackie. Disruption is threat to some and opportunity to others. I’m with you, it feels like decisions are even more important than ever because they impact quality of life for individuals and financial success for organizations.
It seems that curiosity, creativity, and forward-facing leaders will thrive. Know-it-alls will likely be marginalized.
I have to say, many people have zoom fatigue from working 100% remote for so long. I worked primarily remote for 7 years pre-covid and really appreciated the days I would commute into the office and get some much needed in-person interaction with co-workers. Your post today is timely. 100% remote is really hard after a while. And what’s not obvious is that you don’t truly know how the isolation is affecting you until you make the change back to the office (my current status). That said, this has been a lesson in re-thinking what some flexibility can do to balance work and life responsibilities. To ignore it and simply ‘return to work’ misses an opportunity hiding in plain sight.
Thanks Jim. Your voice of experience is a useful addition to the conversation. We are wired to connect. I suppose you could say that we connect at Little League games or PTA meetings, but there is something positive to said for seeing people face to face at work.
I enjoy working from home. I also enjoy face-to-face interactions. I think they’ll be a growing number of hybrid environments. Making hybrid work successful over the long-term is one of leadership’s great opportunities.
I read all of your articles Dan but I respectfully disagree with this one. I have connected with colleagues in ways I never would have pre-covid because it’s opened up so many opportunities. When you have people working in remote locations it doesn’t make sense to travel to meet. In government work this is a ridiculous expense to taxpayers and it comes at a ridiculous personal expense. Why do I want to spend time away from my home and family due to travel? I know there are folks out there who crave that “in-person connection” but I get it daily. Prior to Covid, I never would have set up a virtual meeting to get to know a new colleague. I would have waited to collaborate until one of us travelled and were in the same room. My partner is an extrovert and misses in person. I am an introvert. We have both agreed this is a good work environment for us. Its saving money, time, and stress.
Thanks Socia, Your story is important to this conversation. I’m not sure we disagree. For me, it’s about the conversation.
You illustrate that learning new skills and adopting new methods is useful and cost effective.
I’ve found working remote so liberating and healthy. I’m the technical guy and I find the solutions involving sales to our customers. I share my communications with other team members who have less experience and skill set so they can learn. It used to be worthwhile to commute to work and my travel was 100 miles each way here in SoCAL but that number is not unusual for many. What works against in office is not just what I do and how I do it but the general safety issues and SoCal Highways safety. So many live away from LA County mostly in the Inland Empire that traffic is unbelievable even at 4am in the morning. Couple extensive truck traffic from the Ports and massive highway construction and it works against in office. Throw in the continuing evolving Covid variants and well offices safety is in question. Should one need to collaborate or train all those remote communication options remain. This is a continuing evolving concept and choices to some extent also revolve around whether management trusts employees or whether they are bound to seeing asses in seats as the only way to ensure work is completed. I could work from anywhere and be ahead and get my work done, some because of various reasons can’t do that or from trust issues aren’t allowed.
I find it interesting that most of the arguments on each “side” of the debate are much just opposition to the other assertion. You can build relationship using technology, but why didn’t we do that prior? We all say we can be very relationship oriented in a remote condition, but want the relationship outcomes with their family that come with remote work. It seems like it a balance we are all seeking and it differs for each – as it always has. We have just been forced as leaders to deal with the fact that we avoided for so very long.
Personally, I find excuses now for getting into an office to be with my team mates. In 3D.
I think we will end up with more of a hybrid model