Return to the office? Well, maybe
People who have been able (or forced) to work from home during the pandemic are estimated to be about one-third to one-half of the US workforce. For these workers, who may have been called “office workers” in the past, a big reckoning is coming up. Some are anxious to return to the office environment full time, others hope not to have to do so. Many are telling pollsters that they would prefer more flexibility – working from home some days and going to the office on other days.
As stay-at-home orders ease and vaccination covers more and more people, we are all starting to think about “afterwards”. And many people are thinking about ways to move out of the house, but not back to the “old normal”. For those who were able to keep their jobs full time while working entirely from home, a number of advantages emerged – as well as some disadvantages.
Now, we are starting to look at factors that influence how we will work in the future, and considering them in terms of pros and cons. For those who liked work-from-home, several pros are notable:
Being able to set your own time schedule, working a few hours, then doing some housework or child care then coming back to professional work for a few more hours later, instead of eight hours all at once.
No commute! This has emerged as one of the best things about work-from-home, and one of the pull factors keeping many people out of the office.
A somewhat surprising plus that many people reported is being able to work in different spaces throughout the day. Apparently moving from room to room in the house keeps the mind refreshed and feels like a better way to work.
Ability to focus on work without interruptions. Obviously, this refers to people who don’t have young kids at home. For them, the home environment may be freer of distractions than the office
Flexibility, autonomy, privacy, work-life balance and more time with family are also reported by many who have been working from home this past year or so.
Isolation is number one. Video conferencing is just not the same as seeing and talking with the folks at work all day long.
Events, get-togethers, lunches out, birthday parties and happy hours have also been missed by many. Office life is not all work, and the social times that build bonds and keep the adrenaline flowing are also valued.
Get away from home. As much as workers value being able to spend more time with family, the ability to get away from it all and go to an all-adult work place has its own attraction.
Every situation is unique and your boss will have something to say as well to how much time and flexibility they are willing and able to give. What we hope for is everyone getting a bit more control over the circumstances of their work as an outcome of the great difficulties of the pandemic of 2020.
For more information:
Over 80% of workers don’t want to go back to the office full time. Cnet Health and Wellness.