Returning To The Office – Yea or Nay?

After two years of navigating the worldwide pandemic, where employers have desperately tried to stay in touch with employees via Teams meetings; Zoom calls and emails; restrictions are gradually easing and employees are being encouraged back to the office. 

But what does that mean? Well, it’s a bit of a “Marmite” situation – returning to the office. You’re either going to love it or hate it. Or does that magical middle ground exist? 

Why you’ll hate it

If working from home has been a pleasure to you for the last two years, you’re not going to love the idea of heading back to the office. Perhaps you’ve been able to make the kids lunch; run errands between calls; pop to the dentist for that much-needed filling; go for a run midmorning. The flexibility has afforded you the time to “get stuff done” and you’re not that keen to give that up.  

Why you’ll love it 

But, on the flip, it’s also robbed you of a lot of time. It’s meant that, because you’ve dashed out during the day, you have had to work late into the night. Even on the days you haven’t left the screen, you’ve worked well after you should have because there’s no physical change in venue, so logging off is difficult. It’s not so much you’re working from home, but more you’re sleeping at work. No rest; no true break – which can lead to frustration, exhaustion and burn out. And, with the kids at home so much too – it’s probably been a nightmare to navigate and balance work and family time. 

Physically being in the office also brings with it the social interaction that so many have craved – no, needed – over the last two years. That in-person interaction that so many thrive on has been lacking – just bashing out ideas with colleagues; calling over your shoulder about an issue you need help with rather than having to set up a meeting time on Zoom. Onboarding new employees has been challenging, online, as they can’t meet colleagues properly or pick up “the work place ways” that they would have if they were there physically.

So, is there a magical middle ground?

For many employees, the ideal would be a flexible approach – 2 days in; 3 days at home – or something similar. This would mean that the best of both worlds can be had – the benefits of being in the office; tied in with the flexibility of WFH.  Many employers are coming round to this notion and already implementing it in the workplace. 

But, even with a return to the office space, employees don’t want things exactly as they were pre-pandemic. 

So what do employees want?

Whether it’s bigger spaces between workstations; designated quiet times for concentrated work; or offices closer to home to cut that commute… they want a place they *want* to be in. Without a change in pre-pandemic workspaces, employees may remain in camp “hate” and some of them may not return. 

But do employers know what their employees want in this changed office space? Simple answer: talk to employees and find out exactly what they want in their new work space in order for them to want to return to it. A well known brand has asked employees “How they can earn the commute?”

And, if going back to the office just isn’t for you, there are opportunities that are completely remote, so don’t despair. The reason? Some employers have recognized that they can attract the talent of those much further afield who they may not have been able to attract if they required a physical “on site” employee.  

So, what’s it for you – return? WFH? Or hybrid? 

Whatever it is, Emergent can help you find it.

Get in touch to chat about your options.

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