Home or Office? Or Both?

Discussion is popping up everywhere about employees returning to the office. An interesting poll by the Best Practice Institute was cited on a recent Love + Relo show:  “Some 83 percent of CEOs want employees back full-time, while only 10 percent of workers want back in.”  Many employees believe that most jobs can be done virtually, but leadership within organizations do not agree.

The pandemic made clear that it’s important to take time for family and living.  Commuting time was reclaimed, families quarantined together, and our habits changed from buying whatever we liked, whenever we liked, to standing in socially distanced lines to try and find familiar products at the market.  We learned how to manage our time, and how to get our work done.

Now as companies start to bring employees back to the office, some are setting specific dates for all employees to return.  Other companies express concern regarding the erosion of company culture over the last year.  New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 80,000 municipal workers were scheduled to return to their offices by May 3.  “We do not find that people are more productive at home. We find that people are more productive in the workplace and we are public servants,” de Blasio said.

But many employees think they were just as productive at home as in the office, and a hybrid approach offers more flexibility. A survey of economists suggests the ideal of 25% of all work being performed from home.

Smarter companies know that office culture will never be the same, and they may risk losing their best people if they are not flexible.  The “new” culture of work needs to accept the realities of family, personal time, health and more. It must acknowledge that many employees are capable of managing their workloads in a virtual setting.

First, we had the stress of working from home. Now we have the stress of returning to the office.  One thing is for sure: where and how we work will change in the future, and the changes can benefit employees and employers alike.