Office, Remote, or Hybrid? How to Transition Back with Ease

back to the office

Many American workers are facing yet another Covid-related transition: returning to a physical office.  For some, this means heading back full-time after a year of remote work.  For others, this means transitioning to a hybrid work environment.  For those staying fully remote, this means continuing to navigate a work-from-home balance.

Which model is best? How does a company’s policy on office/remote work affect hiring? How can companies help ease these transitions?

How Office Environment Thinking Has Changed

Across the country, major companies are evaluating their policies on returning to the office.  Google has decided to let its staff work two days from home and three in the office (starting in September). Twitter’s employees will work from home permanently.  Amazon plans to return employees to an “office-centric” culture (Business Insider).

Businesses are torn on which model is best– and so is the American worker.  A recent CBS poll reveals that Americans’ ideal work situation varies: 26% say that they would like to be fully back in an office outside the home, 19% say they’d like to be fully remote at home, 14% would rather not work at all, and 41% prefer some kind of hybrid combination.

Let’s face it, when the country shut down, there was not much choice or discussion on going fully remote: “There is little doubt that the rapid shift to remote work at the outset of the pandemic was a crucial component to maintaining business continuity for many organizations, and the initial increase in productivity was encouraging. However, the sheer length of the crisis has raised questions about the effectiveness of the full-time work from home model,” says Rebecca Henderson, Forbes.

Pros of Being in a Physical Office

Full-time remote work can be stressful.  This is largely due to the lack of a clear delineation between work and home.  Many remote workers have no way to shut things off and wind up working longer hours with no mental break.

An office provides the psychological benefit of human connection: “We need to go back,” says Harvard Business School professor Arthur Brooks: “It’s actually pretty amazing how much more productive people are when they meet in person. When you’re meeting with somebody on Zoom, my hypothesis is, 95% chance they’re actually not paying attention to you. They’re actually playing Solitaire on their computer during your Zoom meeting.”

Fully remote work can also lead to loneliness: “Your likelihood of saying you’re a lonely person goes up 60, 70 percentage points if you’re working at home as opposed to working in the office. Now, it’s good, there’s no traffic, there’s no commute. I mean, commuting is bad. But loneliness is worse,” Brooks states.

Hybrid or flexible work options can offer a solution.  Businesses considering long-term hybrid policies need to consider details to make things fair and equitable.  This may include scheduling meetings on required in-office days, setting policies on PTO, and offering choice on required days in office vs. remote, and more. Whatever the policy, face time is valuable and remote workers may always wonder if office employees have an advantage.

Tips to Ease a Back to the Office Transition

Consider these tips for your office:

1) Make the office safe: set policies for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated coworkers. Be sensitive to those who are still nervous, especially people who may have unvaccinated children at home.

2) Consider easing employees into office requirements over the course of weeks or months.

3) Support a work/ life balance for all models: support boundaries between work and home life.

4) Create teambuilding exercises and human connections to acclimate new staff and reconnect coworkers.

Do In-Office Requirements Affect Hiring?

As recruiters, we at Artemis Consultants know that whether a position is fully remote or in office certainly does affect a candidate’s decision. Some companies worry they will lose their best people or not be able to attract top talent without flexible policies. Ultimately, we recommend that a company adopts the policy that works best for its unique situation.  When interviewing, explain why the company prefers its policy.  Offer some flexibility if possible.

Artemis Consultants offers recruiting services for the SaaS, B2B Tech and Data Services industries. Many of the positions we recruit for are remote. Check out our current postings.

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