Why Return to the Office? Reasons & Benefits

Work from Home and Remote Working
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Munadil Shafat
Student (MBA), Bangladesh

Why Return to the Office? Reasons & Benefits

As more and more people are coming under vaccination globally, many organizations are considering a return to the office. But the question is why we should return to office again? If we can do the same work from home, isn't it better to Work From Home (WFH) forever? As we have already passed more than 1 year and we have become (half) accustomed to working from home, by now we surely have some answers. This post will explore the reasons behind Returning to Office:
  1. OFFICE PROVIDES MORE FOCUS: Someone may find the point counter-intuitive. But to justify it, offices are meant for office work. On the other hand, home is made not for this sole purpose. In home we relax, we do our family chores, and have other commitments. This list just enlarges when we add office work into it. Studies on brain also revealed that environmental cues such as a park, a busy station, and office etc. can trigger the brain to jump to a more focused state. That is probably why from a very recent survey between January-February 2021, Seyfarth at Work found that 42% employees miss their workplace for having a regular structure.
  2. OFFICE INCREASES WORK-LIFE BALANCE: Before the pandemic it was largely believed that work from home increases the work-life balance. Maybe it was true when working from home was an occasional phenomenon. But as we adopted (read: were forced to adopt) a full work from home strategy to combat the pandemic, it goes the other way. We saw more and more employees becoming victim of the so-called pandemic burnout. Global employment website Monster's poll suggested that 69% of employees working from home are experiencing symptoms of burnout.
  3. OFFICE FOSTERS BETTER COLLABORATION AND COMMUNICATION: There are many issues with work from home. Among them a major one is overwhelm of communication. Study by The Institute of Leadership and Management found 83% citing that they are overwhelmed by email. On the other hand, in office the default means of communication is face-to-face which fosters better collaboration and communication as it is our second nature. Video meetings are not like that. In fact the opposite, as a joint study by University of California and University of Cambridge revealed no impact on employee well-being resulting from frequency of video calls. If this is the case, how work from home can foster better communication and collaboration?
  4. OFFICE DECREASES EMPLOYEE LONELINESS: In the Seyfarth survey mentioned earlier, it was stated that 42% employees miss their workplace for having a regular structure. Yet that was not the top thing that employees miss most. In fact, 61% of the respondents said in-person and "grown-up" workplace conversation they miss most. This result is an eye-opener that office can even decrease employee loneliness to some extent.
Personally I also prefer office work, and believe we have a long way to go before a full work from home transformation can occur. Please explain your preferences with a reaction.
Sources:
Wrike, "What Is Return to Work and Why Is It So Important to Get Right?"
Poll results from work in the time of coronavirus, Monster
Towner, E., Ladensack, D., Chu, K., Callaghan, B., "Welcome to My Zoom Party - Virtual Social Interaction, Loneliness, and Well-Being Among Emerging Adults Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic"

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