Is in-office work a thing of the past?

Person sitting on a couch with a laptop on their lap, writing in a notebook with their right hand

Two years ago, we had our first battles with COVID-19. We learned a lot about our workspaces  – what worked, and what didn’t when it came to curbing infection rates. Most of all, we learned, when it came time to become fully remote since the risk was too high for infection, that many businesses could operate just as well or even better with a work-from-home model. Is in person office work a thing of the past? Maybe. Let’s take a look.

WFH: The new normal

Many workplaces struggled to switch over to the work-from-home model, but found that once they did, they could cut costs, allow their employees to be happier, and keep down the possibility of infection. Lots of offices are going back to requiring in-office visits – what gives? With infection rates once again on the rise in the ongoing battle that is a seemingly endless stream of COVID-19 variants, you would think many office atmospheres would be happy to adopt work-from-home models permanently. Some places of business simply are unable to support WFH models – like restaurants, and stores that sell goods – but many traditional in-office environments don’t require any tangible movement of goods. With the help of the internet, many can and have gone fully remote.

Opening up avenues

Many in person office workers who went to a work-from-home model have found that they were happier performing work duties from home. Productivity soared for many people, which was the opposite of what was expected to happen… But why wouldn’t it? People are at home, comfortable in their clothing of choice, using their dedicated machines in whichever space they like to get their tasks for the day complete. Gone are the worries about traveling to and from work (or the traffic involved with travel), whether reheating tuna in your microwave will upset your coworkers, whether or not you have something in your teeth, if your feet hurt from the business-friendly shoes you’re wearing, and so on. People no longer have to worry about their pets or children being home alone, and putting in time – even when you’re sick – is easier than ever.

Consider also: A strictly WFH environment allows you to hire anyone anywhere in the world. Consider this – if you want to provide 24 hour support for your customers, is it better to hire first shift, second shift, and third shift employees, or three people from around the world, working a 9-5 in their own time zone? 

On top of all of this, work-from-home is so much more accessible to those with disabilities of all kinds – not just physical disabilities. Working from home allows people to modify their workspaces to work in an environment that is most comfortable and least distracting to them. Additionally, people aren’t at risk of getting or spreading illness and diseases when they’re safely tucked away in their own homes. That’s a win for everyone involved.

Letting go of the old office experience

There’s a lot to be said about the old office experience, including a lot of things you may or may not miss. Sharing a work birthday or pizza party isn’t exactly possible with a WFH model, and policing someone’s attire, attitude, and time expenditure becomes a lot different – and sometimes impossible. The question remains though: do we need it?

It may be hard for many in-office veterans to let go of the old cubicle experience of a shared workspace, but it’s often in a company’s best interest to do so. Without renting an office space, the money spent on rent and utilities could, hopefully, go into hiring another person, or spread around the office as raises, or maybe even to employee benefits. The time saved in commuting will allow people more work-life balance, and result in happier employees. While there is a benefit to occasionally meeting in person, consider instead having monthly meetings that require a physical presence if you must meet face-to-face.

If you’re having a hard time letting go of your office space, lay out the pros and cons of full WFH. If your biggest concern is that WFH doesn’t allow you to be hanging over the shoulders of your employees all day, you may want to consider this a symptom of micromanagement rather than an actual con. Trust that you’ve hired good employees that will make good decisions regarding time management. As long as the work is being completed in a timely and quality manner, does it matter where an employee is working from?

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