The Importance of Returning to the Office After Remote Working
Employees need to go back into the office.
Remote working took most companies by surprise in early 2020. Finding a way to navigate expectations and work trends throughout the pandemic was unique for each company, primarily thanks to technological advances and innovation. Many companies have continued to support the trend of remote working because they believe it is a way to increase productivity while still allowing flexible schedules for employees. However, does it actually make your employees more productive, or is it an illusion that hurts your team's culture?
While the idea of not having to commute or have meetings in person while still completing your job responsibilities may seem like a dream, it could negatively impact the rest of your company and your wellbeing.
Let's explore why returning to the office after remote work can be beneficial for everyone involved.
The rise of remote working
It's estimated that 1 in 4 American workers will continue to work remotely until the end of 2021, with a total of 22% of the workforce becoming completely remote by 2025. The demand for remote working increased during Covid-19, where a large percentage of the workforce experienced working from home for the first time.
Along with this, remote workers found some advantages, such as saving an average of 40 minutes every day from a daily commute and an average monthly savings of $500 per month from working remotely.
The disadvantages of remote working
While statistics make remote working sound appealing, there are many ways that remote working has impaired companies and business professionals, which is why it is important to return to the office when it is safe to do so.
Some examples of the disadvantages of remote working include:
Remote working has led to a 23% decrease in team collaboration, which means less teamwork and development on assigned projects. This can be especially harmful to junior team members who are not able to work closely with the rest of their colleagues and learn the valuable skills they need to know to succeed and grow within their industry. Unlike office life, where you can approach others in person with questions, you're limited to virtual meetings or Slack chats with remote working.
While remote working sounds good because you can work whenever and wherever, many times when our minds wander. Whether it's checking emails, surfing the web for “research” purposes or doing other tasks that may not be the best use of your time, productivity can drop while working remotely compared to being in the office.
Lack of inspiration
When you're surrounded by people all day, every day, there's a lot of inspiration that comes from that environment. However, when everyone is working remotely, and you're unable to see your colleagues or surroundings. It can be easy for employees' creativity levels to diminish as they work without any outside influence.
Lack of work/life balance
Remote working can make it very easy to overwork yourself simply because you can't tell when your day at work is finished. With no one keeping track of that for you, many employees end up working past their regular hours without realizing that they should've stopped long before then. This creates a lack of work-life balance, increased stress and more burnout among employees.
When employees work remotely, they tend to lose focus and get distracted more easily. There are tons of tasks that can steal away attention, such as household chores or errands, that can decrease productivity while working from home. In an office environment, everyone can focus on the task at hand instead of being consumed with things that are not work-related.
Reduced relationships with coworkers
Remote working can also lead to a lack of relationships with coworkers, which is especially harmful to managers who do not get the opportunity to build up their leadership skills and create stronger bonds within their teams. Relationships are hard to build over messaging and emails or through video chat.
Even though remote working may sound like a good idea because you're free to work from wherever, the lack of human connection can make employees feel isolated and alone. This is especially true for those who do not have family or friends in their area that they can spend time with when not at work. In addition, being isolated makes it easier to lose focus and feel like there's no reason to work because you're unable to see the results of your hard work.
The future of working: remote as needed
It's clear that returning to the office after remote working is the best option for both businesses and employees. However, while there are many benefits to being able to work from anywhere, it's essential not to forget about how beneficial in-office collaboration can be as well. After all, knowledge sharing between teams is crucial in any company so that everyone has a chance to learn new skills and develop their abilities.
Remote working can still be offered on a need basis to allow for flexibility to go to the doctors, take care of a sick child or any other specific situations your employees may face.
There are many ways to do this, with the easiest being allowing employees to work from home on specific days of their choice or facilitating a flexible work remote policy. This provides them with more freedom and control over their schedule while still having the opportunity to collaborate, learn new things and create stronger relationships within teams. In addition, with team members working together in an office setting, they can form bonds that last a lifetime and develop strong leaders moving forward.
Since remote working can lead to overworking, distractions, lack of relationships with coworkers and isolation, employees need to go back into the office. Moving forward, remote working will always be available on a needs basis because although there are many benefits, in-office collaboration is essential too. This way, teams will have an opportunity to collaborate, learn new skills, develop themselves as leaders and create stronger intercompany bonds with their colleagues.