Yes, the debate rages on regarding whether employees should come back to the office or stay working from home. Some companies are “demanding” that they return or else. So, which is right.
Imagine this scenario
Below we discuss the working and home arrangements of a fictitious couple – Susan and Paddy both before the pandemic and afterwards:
Before the Pandemic
They both worked full time – 9-5 with work measured by output and being in the office
Paid top dollar for childcare
Panicked when one the of children was sick (who is going to take time off to deal with it?)
Ran two cars
Commuting from 15 minutes to 40 minutes each way per day with the stress that that involves
Must take time off to be there is a tradesman needs to do a job.
Stressed most evenings collecting children, preparing dinner, getting children to bed etc.
All activities crammed into weekends (scouts, swimming etc.)
Sunday was the only day of rest – both parents exhausted.
After the Pandemic
Both now work from home 3 or 4 days per week
They need only one car
Car costs have dropped, no major commute, more time in the morning
Can now drop the children off to school and collect them later
Childcare costs have dropped as they do more themselves and work later in the evening
Both bosses have agreed that they will measure work output not what time the work was done.
If a child is sick, they can juggle to make it work
Time during the day to prepare food, put on a wash, even go for a walk locally
Can enjoy the garden when the weather is good and the wi-fi works
Can be at home if a tradesman needs to call to do a job or receive a delivery.
Weekends are less crammed as little jobs have been done during the week.
Sunday is family day, and they often visit relatives of go off for the day.
Both parents spend one day at the office, normally with their team catching up, planning ahead and maintaining the social side of the work relationships
Both keep in contact with their boss re new opportunities, promotions coming up as they do not want to lose out.
One of their employers organises a social event every second month, with work in the morning and a relaxing gathering in the afternoon, sometimes it is a meal out, a movie, a bar-b-que or a quiz. Attending is voluntary.
In certain industries collaboration and teamworking is critical so remote working may not always work.
Why are Employers demanding that employees return to the office?
There are several reasons:
They have bought or leased major office space and are stuck in long leases and need to use it.
Some managers cannot manage teams remotely and need to “see their direct reports” to know that they are working.
Some managers remain unconvinced that productivity is as good if not better than before the pandemic.
There is no trust between managers and their reports that the work will get done.
Shareholders are demanding that they employees return.