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The Debate - Work from Home vs Return to Work

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Work from home vs work from office

It was not much time back, corporate employees wanted work from home policies to be implemented in the modern era of office culture at least twice a week so that they get the comfort of working from home and become more productive.

With the world being completely unaware and unprepared for the biggest ever pandemic of the coronavirus's which had already crept into the system affecting people slowly and gradually, it started showing huge symptoms and overall an adverse impact on people. The deadly and unpredictable pandemic having emotionally challenged people had shifted the entire workforce to work from home, making it the new normal.

The entire dynamics of the work culture had changed drastically and work-from-home practice fit in the shoes of most employees who had desperately wanted the same.

The work-from-home policies were enjoyed by people and embraced positively initially and it was also noted that 81% of the corporate employees were comfortable but surprisingly a decent 19% of the employees wanted to come back to the office and voted for a return to work for various reasons.

Therefore, the whole debate of work-from-home vs return-to-work had sprawled up.

Why do people want work-from-home to continue?

Working from home mom

Work-from-home had come with its own set of advantages and comfort zones that most employees had yearned for a very long time.

It was even seen that 62% of the employees started seeking jobs and looked for employers and companies that would provide them the luxury of working remotely or working from anywhere.

Here is a list of few reasons as to why people are demanding work-from-home to continue:

1. Safety and health concerns-

With the fear and anxiety of covid-19 and the subsequent deadly waves hitting mankind every 6 months, employees choose to stay at home and work remotely instead of going to offices post-pandemic to ensure their safety and health concerns. Working from home also enables employees to sleep more, take rest and perform exercises which otherwise would have been a challenge due to time crunch.

2. Increased productivity-

It was seen that employees working from home had drastically increased their productivity than what they were able to provide while working from the office since a lot of time and energy went behind commuting, getting ready, and completing the daily household chores was saved eventually. 65% of employees mentioned that working from home increased their productivity and they would want to continue the same for time infinitely.

3. Attracting new talents-

Working remotely and being able to work from any part of the world undoubtedly paved the way to attract and hire top talents in the company, with no restrictions in the geographical location of employees which earlier would not have been possible during recruitments where candidates were asked to shift from base locations, which later led to either rejecting good job offers or letting go off opportunities to work in dream companies.

4. Financial benefits-

Shifting to the work-from-home model has acted as a huge financial benefit for all the employees, especially the outstation ones who migrated back to their hometown. A huge saving on the food and accommodation part was visioned amongst employees and this particular category of employees stressed more upon the continuation and extension of the work-from-home policies.

5. Work-life balance for some employees-

Working from home dad

The pre-pandemic scenarios were different where employees had to compromise either on household chores or office work, shuffle and juggle between family commitments and meeting the deadlines of presentations creating a not-so-great work-life balance but with work-from-home being adopted by companies because of the covid-19 situation, a good work-life balance was noticed amongst employees who gradually stopped grumping of excess workload and failing to fulfill other important personal tasks.

6. Lesser need for holidays-

Since work from home enables employees to spend most of their time with family members, the need for taking regular holidays for any special occasion such as birthdays or anniversaries, or for that matter any festival had gradually lessened, which in a way helped in increasing productivity, maintaining a work-life balance and also keep employees happy and satisfied.

Why are people willing to return to work?

Return to workplace

With the entire workforce adopting the work-from-home policy and employees expressing their willingness towards the continuation of it, a decent part of the employees and employers want to come back to the office soon after the completion of the vaccination doses.

Here’s the reasoning why employees want to return to work:

1. Personal and professional spacing-

Some employees like to keep a strict distinction between professional and personal lives and do not bring home any office work and vice versa, but with work from home as the new normal, space has been diluted, hampering it. With work interfering in personal lives and home distractions entering the workplace, it becomes a concern for many to keep things sorted and segregated and so, demand for returning to office had been seen majorly from this section of employees.

2. WFH- a policy unsuitable for many-

Many employees for whom face-to-face guidance from mentors and managers had acted extremely beneficial in the past have now been kept away from the office, disabling them to achieve their goals in the manner that they had been able to pre-pandemic. Working from home had also toyed with the self-confidence of performing better.

3. Negative impact on mental health-

The switch from office to working from home had a very negative impact on the mental health of most employees since there had been a sudden stop in the daily routine of rushing to work, meeting colleagues, team catch-ups at the cafeteria, and most importantly, physically being present in the comfort of the workplace was compromised with work-from-home becoming the new normal.

4. Fear of missing

The mental well-being of most employees had been challenged when the pandemic had set in. It had also reduced team spirit and also decreased the morale of certain employees. The fear of missing out on any major discussions or team meetings had crept into the minds of many employees and hindered the ability to work with dedication and perform better.

Employees at corporate conference

5. Zero office outings and get-togethers-

To keep employees happy, satisfied, and cheerful, many companies made sure that outings, get-togethers, or parties be done to have a break from regular monotonous office work. Get-togethers also meant that hierarchies were treated normally and employees could come back better with energy the next day, but with work-from-home, get-togethers and team meetings only remained restricted to online video calls and monthly engagement sessions, without having the proper knowledge of the employees working for the same organization.

6. Poor internet and connectivity issues-

Work-from-home had come with its set of advantages, and the problems too cannot be ignored, the major part of it involving the poor connectivity and internet issues at several parts of the country. However, the internet services had been actively upgraded and advanced during the pandemic situation due to a surge in the demand, yet many employees face severe internet connectivity issues, barring them from smooth easy work-from-home tasks.

The entire situation of the pandemic had given employees the leverage of working from home and being remotely monitored, the free hand to start and end the day and respective work without having to follow the traditional 9-5 cycle. It had come as a boon and blessing to most employees but simultaneously the work-from-home culture had also somewhere penetrated the entire personal lives of employees who keep themselves engaged and occupied with work and meetings throughout the day.

The work-from-home had increased productivity of employees, adding a cherry to the cake for companies and employers, but affected the mental wellbeing of many employees who face serious issues with coping up to the new normal, getting demoralized, and losing focus, interest, and attention to work which otherwise would not have been much of a problem at offices.

The debate continues and this never-ending debate can only be solved by robust data backing.

What do you think your company should do???

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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