So, it’s finally happened. Here in England, the government have taken away the ‘work from home’ guidelines that so many office-based workers have spent two years becoming accustomed to and our employers have started calling us back into the office. For some, it will be a massive shock to the system but for others it will be a welcome return to normality.
Following on from the pandemic, many employers have now chosen to adopt a hybrid working policy, meaning that you spend a certain number of days working in the office every week and spend the rest of the time working from home. Balancing the two may prove to be taxing, especially when you have different people in the office on different days. We’ll see how that goes but in the meantime, we anticipate that there will be a lot of conflicting feelings as we venture back into the daily 9 – 5 grind.
In today’s blog, we’re going to have a look at the pros and cons of returning to the office and some of the things we’re going to miss about working from home full time. After spending virtually two years locked up in our homes, many of us have developed a better work/life balance, so what will the impact of returning to the office have on us moving forward? Let’s take a look!
- Exercise – Let’s face it, most of us have spent the last few years sitting on our bottoms at our desks. With a return to the office, at least we’ll be consistently getting up from our desks to walk to meetings, make coffee and get away from our screens on a regular basis. Being a bit more active will certainly prove very beneficial to our health.
- Collaboration – Rather than having to schedule everyone in for a call on Zoom and suffer the trials and tribulations of poor broadband, people on mute and talking over each over, you can now talk to your colleagues face to face and solve an issue in five minutes rather than having to schedule an hour long meeting – bliss!
- Communication – One of the main problems with working from home has been communication. When you have more than two people involved in a project, it’s difficult to get everyone together to discuss action plans and share information. When you’re back in the office together, people are far more accessible and decisions can be more easily made. It’s easier to share policies, new initiatives and opinions with each other. It takes time to write that email, especially when you have back to back virtual meetings – being able to talk to people in person is so much quicker.
- Better Time Management – One of the best things about working in the office is the act of leaving the office at the end of the day. Around 5:30pm you get to switch off your computer, pack it all away and go home. One of the main drawbacks of working from home is our inability to switch off on time and have a clear differentiation between work life and home life. Going back to the office will help us to reclaim this essential element of work/life balance.
- Networking – After being locked away at home and only socialising digitally with our own department members, we’re now able to talk to people face to face from other departments and remind them of our existence. Maybe there’s a job opportunity arising in their area that we’d be perfect for, who knows?
- More Interaction – As well as networking opportunities, being back in the office will give us ample opportunity to work on our socialising skills. We’ve almost forgotten how to make small talk with our team mates. Speaking to people face to face is very different to communicating with people online. Time to get back in the swing of things!
- Loss of Independence – Heading back to the office to work with our team mates means a lot less autonomy for us. Where as we could beaver away quite happily on our own little projects at home, working to our own timelines and using our best judgement, we now have more scrutiny and interference from those around us. It’s decision by committee again.
- Loss of Flexibility – Having to return to the office means we lose the flexibility afforded to us by working from home. No longer do we have the option to pop some washing on or do the hoovering at lunchtime. There’s no chance to nip out to the shops and get the groceries or wait for the weekly shop to be delivered. It’s the opportunity to do little tasks like this that help us to stay on top of our home tasks and free up time for ourselves in the evening. We’re going to miss our flexibility the most.
- Back to the Commute – Seriously, what an absolute waste of time. We estimate that when we go into the office we regularly waste between 2 – 3 hours of our time sitting in gridlock and getting more and more stressed out. When we work from home we haven’t got to lose these precious hours and get use them to catch up with work or home tasks.
- Increased Costs – Commuting costs money and so do lunches. We’ve saved so much money on fuel and Greggs’ sausage rolls that the thought of going back to spending money on all of this again when our household fuel bills are rising, fills us with dread.
- Illness – Being around people again inevitably means that we’re going to catch whatever germs they are carrying. Yes, most offices are insisting on COVID testing but what about colds, sick bugs, viruses and other nasties? After two years of relative good health, we’re going to get sick again and our immune systems are in for a shock. We’re not looking forward to this at all!
Returning to the office is not without it’s pitfalls, but it’s not without it’s bonuses either. If you find that you’re struggling upon your return then we do advise you to talk to your manager and find out what your flexible working options are from your HR department. Ultimately, if you’ve enjoyed working from home 24/7 and your company won’t offer you that flexibility, then maybe it’s time to start investigating alternative means of income. It’s called ‘The Great Resignation’ for a reason.