- Gensler’s 2020 Workplace Survey found that only 12% of workers want to work from home all the time.
- Why do employees want to go back to the office? For in-person meetings, socializing, and impromptu face-to-face collaboration.
- But it’s also about health, as too much time spent working from home is putting additional strain on work/life separation, leading to stress and burnout.
By now, it’s clear that the office isn’t going away. And yet, with the rise in remote work and an increasing number of companies adopting hybrid work models, it is just as clear that the role of the office has evolved and the workplace is not likely to ever operate the same as it did prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
While there are still many people that are questioning not only when, but also why should employers bring back employees to the office, the truth is that most workers don’t want to work from home all day, every day. Gensler’s 2020 Workplace Survey found that only 12% of workers want to work from home all the time, while the rest still chose the office as their preferred place to work.
According to the survey, the top reasons why employees want to go back to the office are:
- Scheduled meetings with colleagues
- Socializing with colleagues
- Impromptu face-to-face interaction.
Beyond personal preferences, there are tangible benefits—for employers and employees—associated with having people working from the office vs at home.
3 Reasons to Bring Workers Back to the Office
1. Health and Wellbeing
As many workers found out throughout the course of 2020, working from home is not as amazing as it’s cut out to be. While it certainly is convenient and comfortable, surveys have shown that working from home has also led to increased instances of feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Those working from home have also reported having a hard time keeping their work lives separate from their personal lives. They also find it harder to disconnect from their work, which can lead to increased stress levels and put workers at an increased risk of burnout.
Below are some of the reasons why workers prefer a professional work environment vs working from home:
- Social interaction
- Access to tech infrastructure
- Change of scenery
- Peace and quiet (especially among working parents and those with roommates)
- Sense of belonging
- Increased productivity.
All of the above—from social interaction to increased productivity—positively impact worker wellness, especially their mental health.
2. Improved Collaboration and Communication
One of the most common complaints workers have about working from home is that they find it harder to collaborate with team members.
This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most workers had little to no time to get used to new digital platforms and tools to support collaboration due to the unexpected impact of COVID-19.
While these tools have allowed for business continuity in the face of a global pandemic, they have also taken their toll on employee productivity and wellbeing.
Even when employees use video, collaborating virtually is not as smooth as collaborating face-to-face. Add to that the fact that meetings can be draining and can cause communication issues, and you have a recipe for disrupted collaboration.
While plenty of platforms are available to facilitate digital communication, these platforms (even with video), cannot fully replace in person interactions and can make communicating and collaborating a more tiring process:
- With digital tools, it’s hard—or impossible when no video is used—to read body language cues.
- While most people have learned to use digital platforms, not all feel equally as comfortable navigating them, and many still haven’t learned the art of muting a microphone and feel uncomfortable in front of the camera.
- Messaging platforms make it harder for people to discern the tone of voice a person is using, which can lead to unnecessary tension and issues.
- Connectivity issues can really hinder collaboration and communication efforts, as it can cause attendees to miss out on important things that are being said.
3. Company Culture
One reason why some company leaders were skeptical about implementing remote work prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was because they thought company culture would take a hit if people weren’t in the office together.
While a strong company culture can be built and nurtured remotely, it has always been encouraged for remote companies to bring together employees at least once a year. The reason for this is that it is easier and more natural to strengthen relationships face-to-face.
Depending on company values and benefits, organizations may find that a remote work model makes it harder for employees to truly take advantage of benefits and perks. Benefit packages tend to align with company culture, and if employees are not able to take advantage of these benefits, then they may lose some of the connection they feel to their organization.
We Need the Office
Whether it’s company headquarters or a flexible workspace, employers and employees stand to benefit from having access to professional work environments.