In coming weeks, many employers around the world will be singing a new tune: How do we get ’em back in the office after so many employees worked from home?
That issue, of course, doesn’t apply to workers who continued with front-line labor during the pandemic. But for those who could work remotely, their eyes are now open to alternative work arrangements.
Many will welcome a return to in-person encounters that cannot quite match the digital kind. They miss the cameraderie of the office. Innovative ideas can spring from casual conversations. And without the distractions of working at home, employees at an office can be more focused and collaborative.
Still employers will be conscious of those employees who were able to find a work-life balance that improved both their personal needs and professional accomplishments. The new work mantra is not “how many hours did you work?” but “how much did you accomplish?” Many employees find they got more done each day by not commuting.
For some, remote work just makes financial sense: Keep the same job, with the same pay, but move to a part of the country with lower living costs, while saving on commuting costs as well.
Companies are making plans to bring employees back to their offices in stages over the summer. Most popular may be early September, when children will mostly be heading back to classrooms, freeing up parents who provided child care to head in to work. Many companies are pledging to take a more flexible approach, hoping to keep the most talented and productive on staff. Google plans to give its employees four weeks of “work from anywhere” time each year. LinkedIn will allow a good portion of its employees to work remotely for up to half of the time.
How badly do workers want to work from home? A recent study by Microsoft showed that more than 70% of workers want to have the option of working remotely with flexible hours. Blind, an anonymous U.S. network for professionals, found that most people it surveyed would choose being able to work from home over receiving a 30% raise.
For many, a return to the office is coming. But the traditional office is going to have to compete harder to win over employees who’ve found a surprising renewal in remote work. Employees will need to be aware of the benefits of in-office work to an organization. The key for employers will be to find win-win solutions that enhance both their organization's goals and worker satisfaction.