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As Google employees prepare to return to physical offices, should other workers follow suit?


Although the government in England has relaxed their guidance, and are no longer asking people to work from home, the question of whether workers want to return to the office is a key one to consider. Here are some prompts for discussing and deciding whether your office should stay remote, or not.

Majority rules

The majority of people have experienced working from home over the past two years or so, and there are mixed messages about whether workers would rather continue to work from home or if they would like to go back to being in the office.

However, analysis of recent data revealed that jobs specified as “remote” receive 300 percent more applicants than office-based roles.

Changing functions – the future of the office

Traditionally, the office provides a physical space where people come together to coordinate to produce the best output and performance that they can. For employees, it provides a place for face-to-face interaction that technology can never fully replicate in terms of social interaction.

As employees get used to working from home and the benefits that come with that, it could be that the function of the office changes in future. Ideally, workers should have an option when it comes to returning to the office. Some industries find it harder to work from home than others and it’s true that issues with internet connections prevent continuous work, but where possible workers should be given the choice between returning to the physical office or remaining at home.

The environment

One major argument for continuing to work from home is the benefit that it’s having on the environment, particularly when it comes to commuting. In the UK, 68% of workers travel by car or other motor vehicle. Just imagine the emissions commuting in itself produces! Improved air quality goes hand in hand with this. Air quality has improved not only in cities but in urban areas where levels of commuting are high, too.

Power consumption overall has decreased as a direct result of working from home because of COVID, too. The majority of office buildings pay incredibly high electricity bills, especially when the entire workforce is in the office.

Top benefits of remote working

Employee retention: remote working options make it easier for employees to balance childcare and other responsibilities, thus increasing the chances of them staying in their job for a longer period.

Recruitment: remote working prevents employers from being limited to candidates within the local area and working from home often acts as an incentive for candidates.

Biggest challenges of remote working

Work-life balance: although working from home can improve work-life balance, if employees aren’t strict enough with themselves they can struggle to switch off at the end of their day.

Work spaces: employees risk suffering from physical ailments if their home work space doesn’t cater to their needs effectively. Some workers may not have a spare room to work from and end up working from less-than-ideal places without a proper desk or ergonomic office chair. 

Final Thoughts

So, should other workers follow in the footsteps of Google’s employees and return to the office? Ultimately it depends on your personal circumstances. There are certainly a number of pros and cons worth considering when making the choice, so do whatever works best for YOU as an employee, employer, or business. 

Claire James